Does a Decade Make a Difference?
In February 2002, my book, Power Tools for Women®: Plugging into the Essential Skills for Work and Life,was published. At that time women comprised 59% of college graduates, 46% of the workforce, 28% of small business owners, 13% of the US Senate, and 5% of the Fortune 500 CEO’s. Now it’s a decade later and women are still 59% of college graduates, 46% of the workforce, and 28% of small business owners.Today with 3.6% of Fortune 500 CEO’s and 17% of the US Senate being female, we’ve only seen small gains in the workplace for women.
Does the Comparative Data Surprise You?
When I shared data with audiences ten years ago, I asked why women hadn’t come further along in pay parity, power, and position from when I had started working as a full-time professional, and was assured that soon things would be different. Unshackled by an identifiable women’s movement, younger women than I thought that sexism was a thing of the past, career vs. home choices were manageable with egalitarian life partners, and the wage parity would soon arrive. I was told that while my Power Tools for empowerment metaphor was really interesting and might be quite useful, it ultimately would be a non-issue. Ouch!
What happened along the way to today? Not all that much.
With more than 10 years of Power Tools programs behind me, I’m surer than ever about a basic truth: women need to plug into the power that they have and use the interpersonal skills I describe in the chapters of my book to improve their interpersonal skills so they can strategically accomplish their goals. Women continue to give up their power and many continue to have a tough time modulating the tools they do use to experience their maximum effectiveness. We still need the 11 tools described in detail in the book. Tools like the Power Saw to cut away the relationships and situations that hold you back, the Power Drill to ask the right questions to get the right information, and the Voltage Meter to get a reality check that provides amore objective assessment of things, . Using them is as rewarding as exercise, as satisfying as a little piece of chocolate, and as essential as our Smart-phones. And – I have some ideas about additions that can improve the performance of the power tools we own.
It’s challenging when there are barriers that get in the way of accomplishing your goals. Women can’t take advantage of the ‘old boys’ network’ for the obvious reason – they aren’t old boys! And too many men don’t have a clue how to mentor and sponsor women into the C-Suite. Often women are unaware of how to pivot once they are in a position to help others because they are still a minority in positions of authority.
Over the next three months I hope you’ll keep up with my weekly blog Power Tools: Powerful Results and my daily Tweets to learn more about how we can update our Power Tools with useful aids that will amp up the power needed to succeed. I’ll share with you the benefit of Screen Cleaner and Blinders because I know how easy it is to lose focus. I’ll bring you up to speed on some new Adhesives that go a long way in creating new and stronger connections. I’ll point out the advantage of being in possession of both a Magnifier and an Amplifier to insure that the unseen and unheard are not hidden and you’ll discover the advantage of being able to extend your reach and the extra energy you’ll need and can access to deal with whatever comes your way.
And the next 90 days are not just for women. Every manager, executive, or executive board member eager to attract, develop and retain talent knows improving the outcomes reflects well on them.
We are all busy and have an overload of information swirling around in our brains so it’s a challenge to remember what was going on ten years ago. Thank goodness there’s Goggle: a quick search brings up things like the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping, the snipers in the Washington DC are, the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, and the surprising popularity of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. It’s too easy to forget what was happening then and what we hoped would happen next.
Do you want to avoid another dismal decade of minimal forward movement? Rather than point out the disappointing data, let’s change up the strategy. Plug in and Power Up.