What Keeps High-Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: VII. Results: Themes Four and Five

What Keeps High-Achieving Women from Choosing Executive Positions: VII. Results: Themes Four and Five

Sample survey comments:

“My mother told me it would be a dog-eat-dog world. She was right! What has been disappointing is how monotonous corporate America can be. Challenges are hard to come by and you have to fight for them even when you are the obvious choice.”

“My biggest surprise has been how hard it is to work with other people to get great outcomes. The second biggest surprise is how difficult it is to get anything done – and have a sense of actual accomplishment.”

“People don’t always honor good work.”

“Yes, this applied to me when I was younger. At around the age of 30, I learned that corporate environments are not supportive of one’s personal goals. You need to see corporations as a ‘tool’ to get to where you want to be, independent of the artificial ‘goals & achievements’ set forth by others.”

“Many successful women, in my experience, are catty and competitive. I have worked for two women who would take credit for my ideas and work without a second thought.”

“My biggest surprise has always been how people carry biases, prejudices, and stereotypes into work or professional situations. I started a new job and was the first African American women to ever hold this position. I was responsible for the southeast area. I worked with our offices in Alabama and Mississippi for a year via email and telephone. Then I had an opportunity to travel to the offices and meet the people I had been working with. When I first arrived at the receptionist desk in Mississippi, I introduced myself to someone I talked to once or twice a week. She could not believe that I was who I told her and asked me for my business card. The entire time I was there, people stopped, stared and whispered. ‘She’s black!’ The partner that I worked with directly and I decided that I was more effective in my position via email and telephone. It took two years to convince the partners in Birmingham to even allow me to come once they heard that I was ‘black.’ They only had one person of color (non-Caucasian) in the entire office. She is the receptionist. On two of my visits, they forgot I was there and told racial jokes openly in the office. It took years for them to consider any of my recommendations. I eventually went to the managing partners in Atlanta, that knew my ability to manage and how I had saved them money. I explained the situation and asked them to put in a good word for me. They did more than that. They called and explained the advantages, bottom line benefits and instructed them to work with me. Getting their endorsement changed the focus from what I looked like to what I could do. Everyone faces obstacles in the workplace. The challenge is how well we maneuver them; eliminate them, and how resilient we are to succeed.”

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About the Author

Marcia Reynolds

Marcia ReynoldsIn addition to coaching leaders in global companies, Dr. Marcia Reynolds travels the world speaking and teaching classes in advanced coaching skills, leadership and emotional intelligence. She is the author of 3 books and has been quoted in major online and print publications in the US and Europe.

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