Last week I attended a great conference, the 2011, Multicultural Women’s National Conference. For the record, I am neither multicultural nor a woman. You might be asking me, why I am attending and what my connection is. Here is a little about me.
In 2002, I was asked by a then junior at Pace University, Samar Sleiman to help with her newly formed organization, WICA (Women in Corporate America). The goal of WICA was to help young women learn what it takes to succeed in corporate America. She wanted me to help her find speakers for an event she was planning. I did get speakers associated with a women’s leadership program my wife had attended and that began a nine year relationship, whereby, I was advisor to this organization and helped them create events including the “WICA Woman of the Year”. Carol Evans the President of Working Mother Media was the second WICA Woman of the Year. When she, graduated, Samar created PWICA (Professional Women in Corporate America) affiliated with the National Association for Female Executives.
While I am no longer the advisor to WICA (I still help them with speakers) and serve a consultant for PWICA, my relationships and commitments to those organizations and in general to the advancement of women in the business and non-profit sector has never wavered.
In addition to being the Manager of Alumni Career Programs and Services at Pace, I was an adjunct professor specializing in management and organizational behavior at the Lubin School of Business of Pace University. Prior to that I was in corporate America in capacities of training and organizational development. All this is to let you know that I have had a lot of time to think about the advancement of women from an academic and business prospective.
I continually get asked from female students and women professionals what can men tell us that would help us get ahead in business. Again that question was addressed in a conference workshop entitled “What men don’t tell women about getting ahead. “ I was drafted as a thought leader for this event. I did give some advice, but I would like to elaborate on this. I want to be frank. I hope I give you cause for thought, rather than get you to agree. Here are my key points.
- The time for consciousness raising is mostly over. Stop trying to convince men that they were wrong not to promote you and making them feel guilty. It doesn’t work with your significant other and it certainly won’t help with your boss.
- Sure there was as is a place for statistics. It does point out that things were and are unfair. Unfortunately, while they rev you up, they do little to change the perception of those who you want to impress. They don’t get it and for the most part, they never will. You have to appeal to them in ways they understand.
- You appeal to men in terms of what is in it for them. What can you do to help their department or the overall organization? This principle applies whether you are on a lower level in the organization or fairly senior level. On a more junior level this would take the form of assignments, on a more senior level it could be in the form of a promotion.
Here is how you prepare for such conversations. The first step is defining what you notice in the department‘s or organization that need improvement or an opportunity out there that would help the organization’s bottom line. Specify what skills you have that could help them toward their goals. Next, specify how the company would benefit from you taking on this responsibility. Give a specific timeline for its accomplishment.
In discussing a promotion, never ever say it in terms being owed it or why other people got them and not you. Talk about what you have achieved and your core competencies. Demonstrate with specifics how your promotion would benefit the department or organization.
Whether you are a caucasian or multicultural woman these principles apply. These are what men understand. It’s not that easy to prepare for these events. Get advice from mentors or career advisors. Don’t ask for sponsorship until you do your homework.