Breaking the Bias

International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually on March 8. This year we are Breaking the Bias.

Each year partners with McKinsey to conduct the largest comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America: the “Women in the Workplace Report“. Based on data from 423 US companies employing 12 million people, the latest report reaches some daunting conclusions. For instance, did you know that:

  • Women – especially women of color – remain significantly underrepresented in leadership positions.
  • For every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted. As women move into leadership roles, their day-to-day experiences often get more difficult.
  • They are more than twice as likely to say they are “Onlys” (i.e., the only woman in the room).
  • They are also more likely to face microaggressions that challenge their competence.
  • As for the pandemic, it is continuing to take a toll. Women are now significantly more burned out, and increasingly more so than men. No wonder, 1 in 3 working women in the US are considering downshifting or leaving the workforce altogether!

Meanwhile, Grant Thornton’s Women in Business 2022 research reports that, after two years of notable (to say the least) disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak, we see a marginal increase in the global average proportion of mid-market senior management positions held by women (from 31% to 32%) with most continents going above the (emotional) 30% tipping point. With all that’s going on in the world lately, I think it can be likened to a miracle!

Regional proportion of leadership roles held by women in 2022, and position relative to the 30% tipping point,
Source: Grant Thornton, 2022

Last year, for IWD2021, we Chose to Challenge the multiple gender-rooted stereotypes which still inhibit the development of women in the workforce. Progress is slow. Statistically speaking, as long as we remain over the 30% tipping point, by 2025 women are expected to account for 34% of senior management roles globally. Is it enough? No. Is it worth consistently working to achieve it? For sure!

Proportion of women in senior management roles globally, 2011-2022
Source: Grant Thornton, 2022

As PWC’s Women In Work Index 2022 reports, as it stands, “women are currently at a disadvantage: previously slow progress towards equality was set even further back by the pandemic; and the transition to net zero will further perpetuate inequalities unless there is targeted intervention”. Merely gazing at statistics hoping we don’t jinx them simply won’t cut it.

The theme of IWD2022 chooses to imagine a gender equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. A world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive. A world where difference is valued and celebrated. A world currently in the making, where there exists great disparity from one society to another, from one workplace to another. A world where working mothers are not placed on the “mommy track”, or bullied in their quest for fairness and flexibility. This is the reason such movements striving to unite the collective matter so much: they help spark targeted intervention.

Source: IWD2022

As notes, for many women, finding connection and support at work is a major challenge. And since most senior leaders are men, women have less access to mentors, sponsors, and role models who can relate to their experiences. Having spent my entire work life in (the so-called) male-dominated vocations (e.g. Engineering, Project Management, IT, Consulting) I have felt this to my bone. This is why Project Mamager is such a passionate initiative, deeply aligned with both and IWD.

Here’s how Project Mamager is #BreakingTheBias for 2022 and beyond:

  • Through our “How She Does It” interviews. We are democratizing access to role models for working mothers. We showcase women who openly discuss the reality of working parenthood, full of insights and hope, but without the unnecessary sugar-coating that messes with everyone’s expectation management.
  • Through our “Working Moms of Athens Lean In Circle“. Participating working mothers gain access to a lively community of female mentors and sponsors who can relate to their experiences, and offer their advice and support.
  • Through our numerous articles on the transferable Knowledge, Skills and Abilities that Working Mothers bring to the workforce. To educate recruiters and hiring managers and help fight the talent selection bias that keeps more than 40% of (Greek) mothers outside of the workforce.
  • Through the provision of mentorship to Greek women. Through ongoing participation on dedicated platforms (most notably Women on Top & Greek Women in STEM).

This year’s International Women’s Day, whether you are looking for support to navigate change in work and personal life or you could use some help charting a unique career path, do take note that Project Mamager will be breaking the bias, not from the comfort of a couch but from the trenches.

Following the rich agenda of 2021 and the amazing response this initiative has had, we owe it to the community to show up strong for 2022 and beyond. So that no more female talent and potential goes to waste. Because we have an opportunity to do better, as countries, as workplaces, as communities, as people. So let’s do better! All while listening to Florence+The Machine’s “King”, perhaps the most uplifting feminist anthem of the year. Welcome to the Matriarchy: it’s not easy, bit it can be fun!

Stella Ioannidou

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