Campbell’s Soup Knows Its Business Success Rides on Women – As Consumers and Leaders

Eighty percent of Campbell Soup Company’s consumers are women. So to improve their market position, the company has embedded diversity and inclusion into how it does business and manages its talent — it is hiring more women and asking them to bring their ideas to the table. Not only has this strategy led to greater sales and greater employee engagement, it has also won it public recognition. In March 2010, Campbell’s was one of four companies to receive the prestigious Catalyst Award that identifies  companies that have done an outstanding job in the advancement of women.

Here’s the video on Campbell’s “Winning in the Workplace, Winning in the Marketplace, Winning With Women” initiative that garnered them the recognition. Campbell’s Chief Diversity Officer, Rosalyn O’Neale, is among the best in the field, the author of 7 Keys 2 Success: Unlocking The Passion for Diversity, and a friend and colleague. For more on Campbell’s women’s initiative, click here.  Mmm Mmm Good.

New Thinking on Gender and Gen Y in the Workplace — Take Five with Dr. Elisabeth Kelan


Elisabeth Kelan, PhD is Assistant Professor of Management at King’s College in London, where she teaches Corporate Social Responsibility and Managing Diversity and Inclusion. A leading scholar on gender and generational identity in the workplace, she is the author of the groundbreaking Performing Gender at Work (2009). Dr. Kelan’s deep research on these topics lead her to differentiated insights that go beyond best practices. She spoke persuasively about Europe’s glass ceiling in March at the 2010 World Diversity Leadership Summit EU held at the Austrian Ministry of Finance in Vienna. We met there, and we took five at the legendary Palmenhaus café where I asked her some pressing questions about women and Millennials in the workplace.

Take One: You write and speak about the 50/30/10 Rule which describes the seemingly unchanging representation of women in organizations: 50% at the entry level, 30% in middle management, and 10% in executive leadership.  Why has it remained unchanged after one, two, and in some places, even three generations of women in the workforce, and particularly in companies that have been explicitly committed to gender diversity for many years? What keeps companies from getting to 50/50/50?

EK: The 50:30:10 rule emerged from a research study that we did with a wide variety of corporations in Europe. It seems to hold true for many organizations in the world. I think that this is an expression of the fact that most organizations committed to gender diversity have only focused on getting more women into organizations by developing flexible working practices and networks for women, rather than developing women as leaders. Our research has shown that to become a leader, three experiences are essential: undergoing executive training, leading critical business projects and working abroad. Yet few organizations offer women these critical experiences.

Take Two:  Women face multiple dilemmas when it comes to how their managerial and leadership performance is evaluated in the corporation. What are these dilemmas and some of the best antidotes to address them?

My research has shown that most organizations have a dormant stereotype of an ‘ideal worker’ who is able bodied, white and male. Everybody who does not fit into that template is, implicitly, not seen as the ideal worker who can fill important roles in management and leadership. To overcome dormant stereotypes that unconsciously shape behavior, it is important to expose them. This allows us to develop practices to broaden our biases and develop more inclusive ideal workers.

Take Three: When it comes to gender issues in the workplace, the focus has been almost exclusively on women: what additional support they need and how they can connect with other women in the organization. But what about men?  What is their responsibility for improving the gender dynamic in the workplace?

Most organizations follow a fix-the-women approach. It is all about fitting women into models that were designed with men in mind rather than questioning the masculine nature of corporate culture. Although related to the problem of  numerical domination by men, this masculine nature of corporate culture is a distinct issue.

It is vital to include men in the conversation about gender roles. After all, they affect men as well as women. Men are still expected to be the breadwinners and to conform to gender stereotypes at work which restrict their identities and behavior. It is often assumed that men have a lot to lose from gender equality, i.e. the loss of power and status. However I think the opposite is true. Men have a lot of freedom to gain.

Take Four:  Millennials have often been depicted by older generations in superficial, sensational, and judgmental ways.  What do organizations need to understand about Millennials’  needs, wants, and aspirations in order to attract and retain them?

When I started the research on Millennials or Generation Y, I was shocked by much of the literature. Some of it offered negative stereotypes of entitled, selfish young adults that seemed to be based on biased research or the commentators’ experiences with their own children.  I strongly felt that a much more nuanced portrayal of Generation Y was needed.

In our research on Millennials we narrowed down our focus: we talk about young professionals who are the future leaders of elite organizations. We avoided using a survey but instead listened to what these young professionals had to say. We found that they were not selfish or arrogant. Rather, they are the first generation that has fully incorporated the concept of living with risk. For them risk is a fact of their working life. They know that stable jobs are a thing of the past and to succeed they need to remain employable. Therefore they work to learn and to develop new skills. They want feedback because they know that only this feedback will ensure that they can deliver a top performance. Organizations need to understand this urge to learn in the context of more risky employment.

Take Five: In offering up practical ways to apply your research on gender and Millennials, you have made several recommendations. But there is one recommendation – focusing on leadership development – that shows up on both lists. Why do you believe that this is the most neglected, yet most necessary, support that companies can give to women and young professionals?

Leadership development and the way we deliver it is centrally important. I mentioned before that organizations don’t do the right things to develop women as leaders. If you want to have more female leaders, it is important to make sure that they get the opportunity to collect the right skills. However the problem is much more deep-seated than this. We also need to ensure that men are comfortable in managing women and to be managed by women. I therefore argue that it is important that general leadership training includes a focus on gender diversity to allow leaders to manage effectively in a diverse workplace.

For Gen Y diversity is no longer an issue, and they see the gender problem as solved. Young women in particular are highly skeptical towards women’s groups and often feel that these women’s groups are not for them.  it remains vitally important, however, that in their leadership training Millennials come to understand the intentionality and skill needed to get the best performance from a diverse workforce. Inclusive management does not just happen, and leadership training needs to take it more seriously, even with Generation Y.

Women Leaders Rising — Stories and Stats from the 2010 Global Best Practices Session

Increasingly, women are shattering the glass ceiling–and they’re doing so in savvy businesses who actively support gender diversity in leadership. While moderating  Diversity Best Practices’ 2010 Global Best Practice Session in February 2010, I was struck by these stats:

  • At Verizon, 29% of the top 300 leaders are women.
  • At Sodexo, women hold 19% of the top 300 positions. Their goal: 24% within the next few years.
  • At Ernst & Young, the number of women in titled leadership positions has grown to nearly 20%.

To be sure we still have a very long way to go in many companies to see women represented according to their availability in the talent pool and according to the talent, education, and experiences they have. But here, let’s just take a moment to reflect on the gains above, which can be added to what presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling when referring to the votes she got. Not long ago, gains such as these were just pipe dreams. And they still might just be that if executives were not becoming more and more convinced that making leadership gender inclusive makes businesses stronger.

The 2010 Global Best Practice Session hosted by The New York Times focused on gender and corporate social responsibility, and business leaders were there to explain how corporations are helping more of their most talented women step up. Ernst & Young, for example,  is involving men in women’s initiatives, training them to become better coaches for women developing their own leadership styles. And Sodexo ties 25% of executive bonuses to achieving diversity goals around gender representation. It make sense: according to Global Chief Diversity Officer Rohini Anand, every $1 Sodexo invests in mentoring sees a return of $19. Though their approaches differ, these companies all see gender diversity in leadership as vital to strengthening their executive talent pool. Said Sodexo CEO Michel Landel:

“We set goals for every business objective. Gender diversity is no different.”

In The Inclusion Paradox, I offer more stories of how gender diversity all along the corporate ladder has made businesses better able to cope with increasingly diverse client bases. What is your company doing to help women enter top positions of leadership?

Wives and Mothers Rising in the Global Workforce

by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research –

As noted in my January 27 post, women by some measures are exceeding men in education—but still not getting equal pay at the end of the work day. The following two news stories from different parts of the Western world, however, illustrate how married women are increasingly becoming valued as indispensable to the 21st century global workforce.

Although a gendered income gap remains, wives in the United States are seeing their economic status increase. According to a Pew Research study titled “New Economics of Marriage: The Rise of Wives,” compensation is more equitable for married women than it once was. In 1970, only 4 percent of marriages included a wife earning more than her husband–even though 20 percent of married women were more educated than their husbands. As of 2007, 22 percent of U.S. marriages involved a woman who earned more than her husband, paralleling more closely the reality that 28 percent of those marriages included women who were more educated than their husbands.

Unfortunately, not all married women in the West have made this much progress.

A New York Times story details how in Germany, working women—mothers, in particular—are still struggling to keep their heads above water. There, the cultural ideal of a nurturing mother being a stay-at-home mother is so strong that most state-run schools dismiss children at 1:00 p.m. Consequently, most working mothers have part-time jobs, or no jobs at all, so they can be home for their children. Lunch and after-school care are not always easily available. Significantly, mothers who work more than part-time have earned a nickname: “Rabenmutter.” This translates to “raven mother,” or a mother who pushes her chicks out of the nest.

The good news is that Germany’s traditional views about mothers and school hours are beginning to change. As the birth rate plummets and concerns about labor shortages in the female-dominated service sector rise, more Germans recognize that women should not be forced to choose between children and career. Since 2003, nearly a fifth of Germany’s 40,000 schools have phased in afternoon programs, and more plan to follow suit.

“This is a taboo we just can’t afford anymore,” says Ursula von der Leyen, the German labor minister. “The country needs women to be able to both work and have children.” This trend turns the question of child care into one of economic competitiveness, notes Karen Hagemann, professor of European and gender history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As German businesses are discovering, career-minded women are not the only ones who benefit when the workplace, and society, adapt to accomodate them.

The Gender Performance Flip-Flop

by Susan Welch, Hewitt Research –

It begins in early education: Girls academically outperform boys, starting in primary school . The problem is nearly universal, happening in the United States, the United Kingdom , the United Arab Emirates , and, in fact, in all 43 countries studied by Unesco and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Particularly in reading, and sometimes in math and science, girls do better in school than boys.

Hard evidence to explain this imbalance cannot be found, but theories abound. Some suggest boys have more difficulty with language skills, giving girls a natural advantage. Other theories debate whether classrooms are designed to meet boys’ needs, or wonder whether boys’ brains simply develop a bit later than girls’ brains.

In previous decades, the gender gap in primary and middle school did not persist beyond high school, mostly because girls often chose not to pursue education beyond high school. In the 70s that trend began to change; by 1979 women had a slight edge in undergraduate enrollment. And by the 1990s women started to steamroll past men: Ratios of men to women on college campuses tend to hover around 55 to 45 (women to men). Higher enrollment is backed by higher performance: Women tend to get better grades and earn more honors.

In fact, by 2005, women took the lead in graduation rates—finishing their education in higher numbers than their male counterparts.

A victory for women?

Actually, the gender imbalance on college campuses poses social difficulties and even safety problems. A recent Chicago Tribune article speculated that the practice of “hooking up”—pursuing a sexual relationship before having an actual relationship—is on the rise, and in part results from the surplus of women found on college campuses. Men can call the shots. Various related issues abound.

Far more troubling, though, is that the academic gender imbalance does nothing to sway the employment gender imbalance. Sure, men may under perform academically, and they may graduate in fewer numbers, but they are more likely to be employed at a higher salary than women.

How can this be? Women academically outperform men, and are graduating from college in larger numbers than men, but still are underpaid. They still are dramatically underrepresented in board rooms and at the C-level.

A recent study of MBA graduates finds that the wage gap is real, but small initially. After 10 to 16 years, men dramatically outpace women in terms of income. Key factors: Men log more hours at the job, and have fewer career interruptions .

For employers, this should be a wake-up call. High-achieving women’s contributions are being limited by a lack of workplace flexibility which allows those who put a high priority on family life to continue achieving on the job as well. Without these women in positions of leadership, businesses are failing to make the best use of some of their potentially most valuable employees.

Top 50 Most Powerful Women in Business – Progress?

In November 2009, FORTUNE magazine unveiled their annual 50 Most Powerful Women list.

Their headline: “In 1998 when the Most Powerful Women in Business list premiered, just two of our honorees ran Fortune 500 companies. This year 13 do.”

So let’s do the numbers: in a decade’s time, an increase of nearly 600% which means that women CEOs of FORTUNE 500 companies went from representing .4% of CEOs to 2.6%.

Bottom line: we’ve got a long way to go.

No wonder the French Parliament is contemplating requiring that 50% of all corporate boards be composed of women within the next five years. Can companies get there without requiring government intervention?

And to take it one important step further: when it comes to women of color among the Top 50 women, they can be counted on one hand…

Gender Diversity: Top 10 Things Companies Can Do to Maximize Women’s Contributions

While innovative, current, and relevant strategy is essential to break through into the next generation of diversity work, organizations must continue to be operationally excellent and disciplined in delivering the policies, programs, and processes that have proven to be beneficial to people in groups that have traditionally been marginalized. 

I recently came across this clear and compelling document by Inforum whose mission is “to strengthen the business environment in Michigan by creating opportunities for women to lead and succeed.”  While Inforum is geographically based, their recommendations have universal applicability: Top 10 Things Companies Can Do to Maximize Women’s Contributions and 10 Ways Women Can Rev up their Careers

I explore these and various other issues in my book The Inclusion Paradox: The Obama Era and the Transformation of Global Diversity

– Andrés T. Tapia

Gender Diversity: Double Standard on Female Behavior in Sports and Business?

As I visit my daughter here at the University of New Mexico, the video that went viral of the UNM female soccer player who violently yanked an opponent’s ponytail — among other unsportsmanlike behaviors — is on my mind. The fact that it went viral. raises questions of whether women are trapped in conflicting standards of behavior and in double standards as it relates to men.

The blogosphere has vented quite a bit, and accurately, on the fact that if the player in question had been male this would have been a non-story. Not that soccer player Elizabeth Lambert actions aren’t appalling but culturally what made the difference between a story that would have only been of import only to the two teams playing each other, became a nationwide youtube and ESPN sensation.

As Bruce Arena former coach of the US men’s national team said in a interview with the New York Times, “I think we are somewhat sexist in our opinion of sport. I think maybe people are alarmed to see a woman do that, but men do a hell of a lot worse things. Was it good behavior? No, but because it’s coming from a woman, they make it a headline.”

This soccer incident surfaces the double bind that women in the workplace often face. Play it too softly, and they are not seen as leader material, play aggressively and the B word accusation is triggered to put her in her place. As more women play sports, and as more women rise into positions of leadership in society, politics, and business, all of us as part of it, must take a deep look at our beliefs and intuitive reactions to seeing women be explicitly competitive.

We must be able to clearly and fairly answer: what is truly unacceptable behavior — regardless of whether it’s a man or a woman doing it — and what is a double standard that ends up being detrimental in how women are assessed in their leadership success and potential?