Some things never change. Fortunately some other things do. But, as with most things in life, change is not so easy to come by.
In 2003, women represented 51 percent of the nearly 283 million people living in the United States. The last I checked that percentage is a majority. Yet, you wouldn't guess it after taking a look at the statistical comparisons of leaders in corporate America.
Last year, women accounted for only 15.6 percent of Fortune 500 corporate officer positions, according to Catalyst's 2006 Census of Women in Fortune 500 Corporate Officer and Board Positions.
It's not that businesswomen, on average, aren't equal to men in terms of wanting to advance their career and take on the key leadership roles in their companies. (And I know I'm largely preaching to the choir, but for arguments' sake I'll share the statistical proof: In a study of more than 900 senior-level women and men from Fortune 1000 companies, Catalyst found that the sexes have equal desires to have the CEO job.)
And, it's not that women can't get the job done, as I've showed the case for in a previous column.
So, where's the hold-up? Why are women struggling to gain equal footing with men in powerful positions in business?
That's where that six-letter c-word comes into play: change. For society, culture and institutions to change, people must change first.
The problem is that the odds are stacked against change. In fact, top echelon medical and scientific experts say that those odds are 9 to 1 against change, as author Alan Deutschman explains in his book "Change or Die: The Three Keys to Change at Work and in Life."
Nine to one! Clearly, to make change happen one must fight big odds and never give up. As I said earlier, although it isn't always easy, change does happen. Do you want proof? Check back in two weeks and you'll get it.
Next week I'm attending the 2007 Catalyst Awards, which recognizes corporate initiatives that advance women and business while driving business success and giving companies a competitive business advantage. This year's award recipients are The Goldman Sachs Group (GS), PepsiCo (PEP), PricewaterhouseCoopers and Scotiabank.
So what were the initiatives that spurred change in these companies? How were they implemented? And what are the results in terms of competitive advantage and productivity?
I'll answer these questions and then some, so check back in two weeks. In the meantime, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know: What would you like to see change a) At your workplace? b) In the corporate/business world and culture in general?
I'm also interested to know what changes you have seen occur during your career (none are too insignificant to mention). And what was the spark that got the ball of change rolling?
"Minding Her Business" is a column that covers issues affecting women in business and in the workplace. Female professionals (and male, too, if they wish) can use this resource to network, ask questions, receive and offer advice, share personal experiences … and you don’t ever have to leave your office. Just e-mail email@example.com. E-mails are subject to editing for length and content.