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Women in Leadership

Saying Yes and Making it Happen – Celebrating International Women’s Day

Posted by: Trudy Bailey, Strengths Consultant

 

International Women’s Day is celebrated again on the 8th March.

 

Are you a woman who is successful in her career and making it happen? Do you really enjoy your job? We would love to learn from the secrets of your success!

 

As a successful woman myself who runs Capp’s female leadership development programmes, it never ceases to amaze me how the same stories are told worldwide. I can share many of them through my own learning – the hard way!

 

One of these stories is about saying yes. We ask for role models who come onto the programme to share their journey with the emerging female leaders: what has worked well, their journey, their strengths and also their top tips for the future growth of these remarkable women. 

 

One of the most common tips shared by these global leaders is “Take a risk and say yes”.  Even so, I have a slight problem with this.

 

We are probably all familiar with the research that women, unlike men, are not likely to ask for pay rises, and will only seek promotions when they can do everything that’s required. Unlike men, who will go for promotion if there is even a small part of the job that they can do!

 

Often, women have become successful through their relentless hard work, and eventually being recognised by managers who put them forward for promotion or recommend their next post.

 

One of the core aspects of our female leaders training is teaching women to recognise their strengths. It may sound obvious, but we can be so busy running a successful career and home that we haven’t stopped to appreciate what we love to do and do well – our strengths.

 

Of our latest 10 programmes, 97% thought Realise2, our strengths identification tool, was an insightful beginning to the programme, and 95% said it helped them maximise their strengths, thereby enabling high performance.

 

So back to this ‘saying yes’.  I am all for taking risks and challenging ourselves in a big way, as this can be when you can really grow, take ownership of something big and expand your reputation.

 

But, next time you are asked to take on extra responsibility, a new role or lead a project, go back to your strengths. Where do you get real energy from? What would you love to do more of? Where do you get your best feedback? If you could carve out your dream job, what would it be? 

 

Take risks by all means, but your confidence and performance comes from your strengths. Success will come if you take a step back and work with your best assets. Sometimes it might be worth a side step to play to your strengths, since you will quickly be able to show off your capabilities.

 

I wouldn’t be here today without stepping into a colleague’s shoes a few years ago when they had broken their foot! I had no idea how to do it, but knew I had the passion and motivation to find out and make it happen!

 

Find out more about our female leadership programmes at capp.co

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Supporting Young Women into the World of Work

Posted by: Nicky Garcea & Alex Linley

 

This International Women’s Day, we believe that there’s no better time than now to explore the role that we can all play in encouraging and supporting young women to find their way in the world of work.

 

Here are our five top tips for how you can do so:

 

1. Help young women to identify their strengths – after many years at school, young women can be forgiven for thinking of their achievements only in terms of academic grades. Helping them early on to see that their strengths are more varied than this is key. Knowing their strengths will help them develop their authenticity and build their confidence as they start to explore the world of work.

 

2. Talk about work – at Capp, we see a marked difference in the graduates and school leavers that we meet. There are some whose parents or family members have spoken to them about work and the jobs that they do, and others who haven’t had so much of this exposure. Developing a level of commercial awareness at an early age can be a real differentiator when it comes to a first interview.

 

3. Make connections – the chances for business-focused work experience are becoming more rare, as are the opportunities for weekend work. Never before has it been more key that we offer young people – and particularly young women – the chance to get into business and build their network. What a difference it would make if we could each make five work connections for a female school leaver so she can start building her career network and contacts now.

 

4. Mock interviews and assessment centres – it is often the case that women can feel alienated and perform less well during the selection process. Creating familiarity with different types of assessments can be valuable. Find examples of  psychometrics on line, share interview questions you have been asked, and encourage the reading of financial papers and the business press.

 

5. Prepare the ‘work mindset’ – with a growing global emphasis on employability skills, it is clear that many school leavers and graduates lack the vital business skills they need for their work experience or in their first job. Describing the attributes of the people you work with who are highly engaged and productive can help job seekers hear what the best employees are like. Share how these people manage their profiles at work, what they do, and what they don’t. In particular, prepping young women to be prepared to work hard and learn from everything they do, and the mistakes that they make, will create a solid foundation for them to build on.

 

We urge you today - and for the weeks, months and years that follow – to consider how you might help a young woman that you know to realise her full career potential. We hope our five top tips for doing so provide a useful starting point.

 

 

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Five Books for World Book Day, By Women and For Women

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Today is World Book Day, and with International Women’s Day tomorrow, and Mother’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d take the opportunity to look through a lens that applies to all three together.
As a result, I wanted to share with you five books, by women and for women, that have all made big, big differences in the lives of women.

 

1. Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, by Susan Jeffers – quite simply, this book has changed the lives of millions. In it, Susan Jeffers shows how to do just what it says on the cover – overcome your fears and develop your inner power, energy and enthusiasm, so that you can get back on track with striving towards the life you want to lead.

 

2. In a Different Voice, by Carol Gilligan – this is the book that changed the dialogue about men and women, helping give women their own voice by legitimizing the recognition that theirs was a ‘different voice’, in a cultural context that had been almost exclusively developed and defined by men. The repercussions of Carol Gilligan’s seminal ideas continue to resonate through the generations.

 

3. Mindset, by Carol Dweck – this book represents the culmination of Carol Dweck’s lifetime work to show us that our mindset determines our destiny far more than our genetics in so many ways. With a message that is equally powerful for men or women, Dweck highlights how a ‘growth mindset’ encourages us to work hard, persevere, learn and develop. In contrast, its opposite, a ‘fixed mindset’, can leave us fragile, vulnerable and defensive when things don’t go our way. If you want to work on being better in life, work on your mindset.

 

4. Strong Woman, by Karren Brady – “Karren Brady gave me the permission to know that it was alright to work and to be a mum – that you could do both, and do both well” was how one woman described this book to me. A role model to many women, Karren Brady makes my list for the inspiration she provides to modern women who are striving to find the balance and integration that allows them to have the best of all worlds.

 

5. Difficult Mothers, by Terri Apter – with a quirky counterpoint on Mother’s Day, this is a brilliant book for anyone who struggles with their relationship with their mother. Terri Apter does a stunning job of unpacking the relationship dynamics that can be created by difficult mothers, and what we can do to overcome them. For the record, this certainly was not my experience – anyone who has read Average to A+ might remember my mother, Hilary, being described as a paragon of the Unconditionality strength.

 

My list is personal and idiosyncratic, not definitive, so I very much welcome your views as well.

 

What are the major books that have influenced you, and why?

 

Let us know by sharing your Comment on The Capp Blog below.

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Building Bridges for Female Social Mobility

Posted by: Nicky Garcea

 

I am the first person in my family to attend university. I also attended a then ‘newer’ university, the University of the West of England, Bristol. According to government terminology, I am a ‘first generation’ university student. I know amongst my colleagues at Capp and our clients that I am not alone.

 

If I were to apply for a graduate programme now, in 2013, my ‘first generation’ status along with my ‘non red brick’ university makes me a quirky applicant. Quite probably, for some graduate programmes I would be overlooked on this basis alone.

 

For some years, I might have hid the fact I went to an old polytechnic, but these days I am starting to fully appreciate the role that it has played in offering me an education for life and a stepping stone into employment. I would also hope that I, together with many of my colleagues and peers, will also be able to show younger generations that you don’t have to have had a privileged background in order to get on.

 

As we approach International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we will no doubt be presented with many lists of inspirational women. Whilst I applaud almost anything that raises the profile of women, the compliation of these lists fascinates me. I am particularly interested in the subliminal messages that they send out to younger women and emerging female talent.

 

This year Radio 4 published for the first time, the Woman’s Hour Power List. Much was made of this list, which was generated from audience nominations and vetted by an expert panel.

 

Now, I am not suggesting that, aged 16 and attending Beacon Community College, that Radio 4 was my station of choice. Even so, had I stumbled across this list, it would have said to me, albeit implicitly and subliminally, ‘If you are not from a rich family, or if you haven’t attended the most elite universities in the US or England, you won’t become a woman of power’.

 

Please check out the educational and family backgrounds of these unquestionably accomplished women. While in no way is it my intention to detract from what they have achieved, I want to flag simply the implicit, subliminal message that their selection conveys: ‘If you’re not one of us, you won’t be able to make it.’

 

I’m absolutely sure this is the last thing that Woman’s Hour wanted to convey, but such is the implicit, often unnoticed impact of subliminal messaging like this.

 

At Capp, we recently asked over 200 women to share examples of their female and male role models. As you might have predicted, responses such as Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela were often included.

 

However, what is possibly most interesting is the number of women who list their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, managers, work colleagues and friends as their most impactful and inspirational role models. Several women noted how their role model had been their first manager, or a leader who took a chance on them, helping them into their first corporate role.

 

It is clear that the women are most influenced not just by the accolades of the accomplished few, but even more by the actions and behaviour of those with whom they have direct contact. This should be our focus as we approach International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day this year.

 

How can we collectively create cultures, homes, businesses and societies of people who seek to be role models for our youth?

 

With both International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day later this week, we’ll be turning our attention on The Capp Blog to how we can make this happen.

 

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The Year in Review on The Capp Blog

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

The Capp Blog launched this year with our first blog post on 17 January 2012. It has been a busy year since then, with 31,514 views of 164 items.

 

Here are five of the most viewed posts that showcase The Capp Blog at its best:

 

#1 – As part of our Performance Management series, Reena Jamnadas and Emma Trenier answered the question What Do Employees Want from Their Managers? As the most read blog of the year, clearly this was a question that you, our readers of The Capp Blog, wanted to answer as well.

 

#2 – Our feature on School Leavers Fortnight in August generated loads of interest, with Reena Jamnadas again leading the way with The Defining Power of Three Small Letters: Helping Students with their A-level Results.

 

#3 – Sharing our learning and development expertise through the lens of positive psychology, my blog On Learning to Learn: Four Positive Psychology Principles had readers re-imagining their own approaches to learning and development.

 

#4 – Throughout June, we ran Female Leaders Month on The Capp Blog, with Nicky Garcea leading the way with her blog Can Only Superwomen Make it to the Top?, originally published on the Financial Mail Women’s Forum.  

 

#5 – Completing our top five of 2012 was my blog on Student Strengths Insights and Strengths-based Graduate Recruitment. This reported the results of the Ernst & Young-Capp Student Strengths Survey, showcasing our work as the leading strengths-based graduate recruiter in the UK.

 

With these blogs – and many more – throughout 2012, we hope you will agree that it has been a great inaugural year for The Capp Blog.

 

We promise to bring you more insights, expertise and entertainment over the next year, but in the meantime, we wish every single reader of The Capp Blog a peaceful Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

 

Enjoy your festivities and we’ll be in touch again in 2013!

 

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Women in the Press

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Lord Justice Leveson’s report into press standards, published last Thursday, has generated a lot of debate on the role of the press in modern society.

 

Interestingly enough – and perhaps stirred into action by the controversy they generated when unable to find female experts to discuss breast cancer on Radio 4′s Today programme - the BBC has published a magazine article on the media representation of women in the press. Astute readers of The Capp Blog will know that this is a topic we have covered previously.

 

In this article, the BBC highlighted five of the most common complaints about how women are portrayed in the press:

 

1. Women as sex objects – Women are often portrayed as sex objects by the press, whether explicitly, such as in a Page Three photograph, or more implicitly, through the way in which they are presented and described.

 

2. My mother, my wife - Women are often portrayed as wives and mothers (or girlfriends) – that is, being defined by who they are in relation to someone else, rather than for who they are in their own right.

 

3. The passive woman - Rather than as people who are active and doing something, women are often portrayed in passive roles. This serves to create and perpetuate a stereotype of women as passive recipients, rather than active participants.

 

4. The invisible woman – As we have noted previously on The Capp Blog, where have all the women gone? The campaign group Women in Journalism reported earlier this year that 84% of lead articles in the press were about men, rather than women, and of these articles, 75% were written by men.

 

5. Women’s bodies, but men’s contributions - Far, far more than is ever the case for men, women are judged on the basis of their appearance, rather than their contribution.  Whereas commentary about men in sport, politics or business will almost exclusively be about their performance, for women, any commentary will almost always include a judgement on their appearance.

 

If this media representation was single, isolated, or unusual, one might argue that it was unfortunate. Yet the reality is that this is only too typical, rendering it not only unfortunate, but unacceptable.

 

With the influence of the media all around us, and the impression and impact that this has – deliberately or unwittingly – on young minds, we all share a responsibility to be mindful of how what we consider acceptable or unacceptable shapes the reality that will be faced by future generations.

 

As I contemplate my two daughters growing up, I hope they will find a world in which they are judged for what they have achieved and contributed, rather than for what they are wearing or what they look like. It’s time to change for the sake of these future generations.

 

Happy birthday, Sophie, 10 years old today.

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Being Inspired by Female Role Models

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

Saturday morning reinforced for me just how much the world is changing for women.

 

I was getting my 10-year old daughter, Sophie, ready for a school football match.

 

Ten years ago, maybe five years ago, well – let’s be honest, maybe even five months ago, before the Olympics – there would have been very few of us who had any idea about women’s football, and even less idea about who the role models of women’s football might be.

 

Not anymore.

 

I asked Sophie which position she wanted to play. “I want to be the goal shooter like Kelly Smith,” she said.

 

Ten years old, and already she has a female football role model. How fantastic is that!

 

Kelly Smith, I salute you for what you have done to inspire a new generation of women. You can read more about Kelly in her autobiography.

 

This experience was all the more salient to me since for the last few weeks I have been immersing myself in books like The End of Men, by Hanna Rosin, The Richer Sex, by Liza Mundy, and Little Miss Geek, by Belinda Parmar.

 

The message of the first two, loud and clear, is that the time for women is coming, due to trends in education, work and family life that are about to reach a tipping point. In contrast, Belinda Parmar is on a mission to get more women interested in and working in the technology field – a hugely laudable goal.

 

I’ll write more on all of these topics in future blogs. For now, though, I thought it was salient that one of the points in Belinda’s 10-point Lady Geek Manifesto to increase the number of women in technology was to provide and celebrate female technology role models – a Female Heroes Programme.

 

As Sophie’s experience attests, this matters. Kelly Smith is already doing this for football, inspiring young girls like Sophie.

 

It’s time to celebrate great women across every field of endeavour, as we have started to do in previous posts on The Capp Blog, including The 21 Most Powerful Women in Mobile Advertising, Here are (some of) the Women in Tech, Where are the Women Conference Speakers? and Celebrating Women’s Strengths on International Women’s Day.

 

For the “little Sophies” all around the world, we should seize every opportunity we can to inform and inspire them with the possibilities and potential of women.

 

The future is going to be female, after all.

 

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The Great Gender Debate

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

The weekend newspapers have again been full of the gender debate about how men and women are faring relative to each other, especially in the workplace but also in education, relationships, lifestyle and ambitions.

 

A lot of this commentary has been triggered by two books that showcase the evidence for why women’s development and progress is outpacing men’s, and then go on to suggest what this could mean for our future.

 

The main basis for the arguments in The Richer Sex (by Liza Mundy) and The End of Men (by Hanna Rosin) is that girls are doing better than boys in education, and then go on to enter higher-paying professions in greater numbers than men. In turn, this pattern means that women have increasing economic freedom, and with that, increasing choice over how they live their lives and who they live them with.

 

Increasing autonomy and choice are good for any human being, especially for people who have been in situations where combinations of circumstances have deprived them of this. But it’s a dangerous assumption to think that all women will want the same things as men are perceived to have traditionally wanted – such as a place on the board or a high-powered role with all the pressures and responsibilities – and sacrifices – that accompany it.

 

Through our Women at Work Survey, we’re striving to understand the real drivers for women in the modern age. What do you want from work as a woman? What are the things that have shaped your career and development to date? What do you want to achieve in the future? Who do you learn from and aspire to be like?

 

It’s our view that many women’s voices have not yet been heard, being drowned out by the clamour for putting more women on the board. Let me be clear – I support this – but I also support the right of any person to decide that this isn’t what they want, and to choose an alternative path instead.

 

We would love to hear about your experiences and aspirations as a woman at work, so please join us in completing the Capp Women at Work Survey. As a thank you to all our participants, we are offering a prize draw for an iPad 3 and three runner-up prizes of a Spa Day.

 

Please help us understand more about what women want from work by sharing the survey link with others.

 

You can also let us know your own thoughts on women at work and in leadership by posting your Comments on The Capp Blog below.

 

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Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Leaders – Financial Mail Women’s Forum

Posted by: Alex Linley

 

I’m delighted to share with you Capp Director Nicky Garcea’s latest blog for Financial Mail Women’s Forum, which is all about inspiring the next generation of female leaders:

 

“Thank goodness for the Olympic Games. Jessica Ennis, Victoria Pendleton and Rebecca Adlington are three of the most talked about members of Team GB from the London 2012 Olympic Games, and quite rightly so! Nicky Garcea, director at Capp, leading strengths-based people management consultancy, explores how our environmental surroundings, social norms and expectations create powerful but unwitting subliminal messages which have a huge impact on young women’s career aspirations, choices and subsequently their desire to become successful female leaders….”

 

To read the rest of Nicky’s blog, visit the Financial Mail Women’s Forum website.

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Five Things You Didn’t Know About Women at Work

Posted by: Alex Linley & Nicky Garcea

 

Over the last few days we have been reviewing the UN report on The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics. This report is produced every five years, following the Beijing Declaration adopted in 1995 at the Fourth World Conference on Women.

 

As we’re currently running the Capp Women at Work Survey focused at the individual level (you can complete the survey here), we have also been looking at trends and statistics at the international and national policy level.

 

Here are five things you probably didn’t know about women at work:

 

1. Women’s participation in the global labour market has been steady at about 52% from 1990 through to 2010, whereas men’s participation has declined from 81% to 77%.

 

2. Women spend at least twice as much time as men on unpaid domestic work, leaving them with total work hours that are longer than men’s in all regions of the world.

 

3. Relative to their overall share of total employment, you’re significantly less likely to find a woman as a legislator, senior official or manager, and much more likely to find a woman as a clerk, sales worker or service worker.

 

4. Following from this, more than three quarters of women’s employment in most of the developed world is in the service sector – a significantly higher proportion than men’s employment, although this is increasing for both genders.

 

5. And this looks unlikely to change soon: Based on participation in tertiary (university / college) education, women are predominant in the fields of education, health and welfare, social sciences, and humanities and art, but they are significantly under-represented in science and engineering.

 

The World’s Women 2010: Trends and Statistics gives us a macro-level view of what is happening for women in the world of work and beyond.

 

If you’d like to help us understand more about what is happening for individual women at the micro-level, please join us in completing the Capp Women at Work Survey. In this survey, we are interested in understanding more about why as a woman you do what you do at work, your achievements, your career progression and role models, the advice you may need, your learning and the legacy you would want to see for other women.

 

As a thank you to all the women who complete the Women at Work Survey, we will enter you into our prize draw for an iPad 3 or three runner up prizes of a Spa Day. We will also give all our respondents a sneak preview of our findings and results before they are published more widely.

 

We’re keen to collect responses from as diverse a working female population as possible – so we invite and encourage you to pass on this invitation to your female colleagues, friends and family as widely as possible. Thank you – we appreciate it!

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