HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016 - (Page 14)

FEATURE Advancing Women IN LEADERSHIP By Candace Laing T wenty years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate business degree, I didn't own a personal computer or cell phone, nor did I know what email was, let alone the World Wide Web. Today, these are things I can't function without and remarkably, I can access all of them via a smart phone that fits in my pocket. It is amazing to witness these changes but there are some things have stayed the same. In its report Women in Senior Management: Where are They?, the Conference Board of Canada states that the number of women in senior leadership roles in Canada has been stagnant for more than 20 years. Why isn't that number changing? For a large part of my working life I wasn't interested in gender equality issues. The "glass ceiling" wasn't talked about much and I quietly thanked the generation that preceded me for working through "all that stuff." I couldn't relate to "feminists" and it was my perception that they were hanging onto old baggage. 14 Spring/Summer 2016 * Then two things happened. First, I had the pleasure of adding two little boys to my life. They brought countless blessings but also an entire suite of decisions and challenges that affected my career plans. Second, I started to take an interest in the research and data published about women in leadership. As a result, I've learned that some "old baggage" and external barriers may still be in play and that there is a new and fascinating discussion surrounding a host of internal barriers that are holding women back. I've also become interested in the current debate on whether it's women or organizations who bear the greatest responsibility to help more women achieve leadership roles. In order to understand who is responsible and what can be done to advance women in leadership, it's helpful to take stock of some of the challenges we face. Super Mom has left the building For a lot of working women, especially those with children, "having it all" is the myth we misguidedly strive for. Attempting to be 100 per cent in two worlds leaves us feeling like we are failing in both, and we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit. It's only recently that I've heard women openly acknowledging the struggles they face in managing a full-time job and a full-time household (as opposed to upholding the façade of super mom). There is a growing realization that our quest is flawed, and therefore doomed from the outset. To make it worse, women are susceptible to judgment from both worlds, i.e., "if I take a reduced maternity leave, I'm not a committed mother" and "If I choose family over work, I'm seen as someone who doesn't have what it takes." I can relate to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer because while I took more than two weeks off, I did take shorter maternity leaves than are typical. I quickly tired of explaining myself to people who couldn't understand why. I have reached a point where I have accepted that it is okay to love my family and my job. I have also accepted that there will be tradeoffs in both worlds on any given day. The balance between work and family is a highly personal and individual choice. Every woman should define success in her own terms. One aspect for debate is whether or not organizations can ever expect to see a gender balance in senior leadership positions. This is due to the fact that women may elect to slow down or step away from their careers in order to raise their family. Perhaps, as Anne-Marie Slaughter suggests in her TED Talk and book Unfinished Business, we undervalue the important role of caring for our children. On the other hand, in her TED Talk and book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg says that we need

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016

Letter to the Editor
From the Editor
Leadership Styles: Helping or Hindering Engagement?
Building an Accountable and Self-Directed Workforce
Is Distance Learning Meeting Your Training Needs?
Advancing Women in Leadership
Spotlight: Stan Slap – the King of Culture
Saskatchewan HR Trends Report, Spring 2016
Legal Corner: The Use of Contract Workers Can Create Hidden Liabilities for Employers
CHRP Corner
The Resource Room
Advertisers Index

HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016