Career vs Family life

I recently came across an article in HR magazine claiming that more than a third of women do not think they can meet their career goals while still paying enough attention to their personal lives. We recently blogged about the lack of women on the board of UK firms – are the two connected?

Kenexa Research claims ‘traditionally, women play a larger role in managing their family responsibilities and, therefore, they are likely to feel pressure in trying to balance both work and family demands’.  Kenexa carried out a survey of over 1000 employees asking for their views on work-life balance; just over fifty per cent believed their employers supported their efforts to balance both their work life and personal life. Does being successful both in the workplace and at home depend then on the support you get from your employer? Read the rest of this entry »

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Power of networking

I recently wrote a guest blog for Vitae on the power of networking; you may want to read it along with the comments here but I’ve also posted it below!

I’m a networker. I love meeting new people, connecting people and being able to help people out. However the word ‘networking’ often fills many people with dread – whether it’s fear of approaching people you don’t know, lack of time or simply not knowing what to do, many people tend to dismiss the idea. At the same time though, we all network in some way. It’s not just about attending networking events, as great as they can be;  it’s about communication, through email, phone or through social media like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Networking is useful for your personal life – it helped me when I moved to London not knowing many people and provided me with a great recommendation when I was re-doing my kitchen! But more importantly it’s also an essential career tool. Your promotion or next career move may lie in the hands of someone you could be engaging and networking with.

“Why should I bother networking?” – To pick up valuable information, broaden your perspectives, find a mentor and to get advice from / connect with people in a similar position to you. It’s also a great sales tool to show people your capabilities and it’s a way for you to help people who may then be able to help you some day. Remember that your network doesn’t just consist of those people you know but their contacts too – a friend of a friend may come in handy.

“But I don’t know what to do!” – Think about what you want to achieve, from who, and how. You want to meet people who could help you, so perhaps colleagues, competitors or other professionals in your sector. However at the same time don’t dismiss those that you don’t think can help you straight away, as you never know when they may be a useful contact. Think about what they could provide for you and vice versa as networking is about giving as well as taking a look at different types of networking events and decide which is the best for you.

“Have you got any networking tips?” – When it comes to face to face networking make sure you look the part, and be aware of body language – smile and approach people to invite people to talk to you. Have a few opening questions ready to start the conversation and be interesting and listen. Most importantly make sure you follow up by sending an email for example – this will make sure you maximise on networking opportunities and don’t instantly forget each other. Also use social networking to keep in touch with contacts old and new.

Networking takes time and is an ongoing process that allows you to share ideas and information. But it can be hugely beneficial and it’s a tool that no professional can ignore. Give it a go – good luck!

Daily Mail strikes again

The Daily Mail strikes again. And the title says it all: “Can love survive when a woman earns MORE than a man?” You can find the piece here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1249768/Can-love-survive-woman-earns-MORE-man.html

It starts by saying: “It’s a seismic social shift: nearly half of women are paid as much as or more than their man”. ‘Hooray!’ we think – finally all the fighting for equal rights is perhaps beginning to pay off. However according to the Daily Mail, “it could all end in tears” and “the truth is that we don’t know whether to feel triumphant or dismayed”. That’s certainly news to me!

Here are some other gems of information:

“Many [women] are working simply because their families need their income, and increasing numbers are finding themselves accidental breadwinners because men’s jobs have been hit far harder than women’s in the economic downturn – a phenomenon dubbed the ‘mancession’.”

“If the past 40 years have been all about women entering the workforce and boosting the economy, the next 40 will be spent dealing with the social, personal and family consequences. And that may be the hardest part of all.”

With the struggle of breaking the glass ceiling that women still face, it’s disappointing that articles like this are still written. All it does it turn women’s success into a negative, when it’s an achievement we should be celebrating. What’s more the article states that only 19% of women earn more than their partners with another 25% earning the same – that means that around half of the women in the UK still don’t earn as much as their partner.

As the article states, “social attitudes are still trailing far behind”. But they won’t improve when we’re still reading pieces like this.

Input into research on recruiting women & minorities into IT departments

Rachel Dines at Forrester Research, an independent research company, is currently looking for input into a research report on recruiting women and minorities into IT infrastructure and operations (I&O) departments – networking, storage, databases, helpdesk, telecoms etc. She’s interested in talking to individuals who manage people working in those areas and who are happy to share their ideas on recruiting, retaining and promoting women in their teams.

The report is about best practices for recruiting and developing more diversity in infrastructure and operations departments around the world. E.g. why is I&O the least diverse department in most IT departments?

If you have any experience with this, please contact Rachel directly by the middle of September 2009:
Rachel Dines
Researcher – Infrastructure & Operations, Forrester Research, 400 Technology Square, Cambridge MA 02139
001 617 613 6081 or rdines@forrester.com
@RachelDines
http://www.forrester.com/rb/analyst/rachel_dines

Thanks so much!

A different kind of job application

Usually the job application process is relatively straightforward – send in your CV and covering letter and wait for a response. Well, not this one. Mobile phone company Teimlo is looking for a new marketing manager, but is only accepting applications through text message.

According to the Telegraph, this is to test the applicant and see if they can be creative and to the point. The company’s boss commented “If their text says: ‘Dear sir, I would like to apply for the position of…’ they are going to run out of space. They have to be a lot more savvy to fit something in that’s going to make a genuine impression. What we want is fanatics at what we do, people who will fit in and understand the subject. It’s the attitude that matters.”

Is it time that we re-thought traditional job applications? Many firms now use psychometric testing in the interview process and video CVs have become increasingly popular. Although there have been these advancements, I still think that the CV will remain for a while – a text may test creativity but without the necessary skills and experience, you won’t have the right candidate.

The office playground

Remember those school bullies in the playground? Well, it seems that they’re not just confined to the school gates. They’re rife in the workplace too.

As reported in the Times the Andrea Adams Trust, a charity that fights against bullying at work, is receiving more phone calls for help with the issue. And not just a few more – the number is estimated to have doubled since the recession hit. The charity says that many of the callers don’t want to raise the issue at work as they’re scared that they could lose their job, which no-one wants to do given the current climate.

Although the majority of bullies are men, according to a recent article in the New York Times, female bullies target other women 70% of the time.

I can’t say that I am really surprised by this. The female race can be a bitchy one at times and instead of adopting some female solidarity, this is often directed at other women. And with the male dominated business culture, there are some women that adopt an aggressive manner to get to the top. But this brings up a different point, as highlighted by Sharon Mavin, associate dean at Newcastle Business School: “Is it bullying or is it just a woman not meeting another woman’s expectations? Women react to men bosses as bosses but react to women bosses as women.”

Our own research in conjunction with Microsoft brought up some interesting and polarised views from women in the IT sector:

  • “Assertiveness in a woman is too often regarded as hostility or aggression, so it is a fine line.”
  • “Maybe because my team manager is a woman, who has had children, she is sympathetic of the need to balance work with family.”
  • “The rest of the people on the staff have to put up with [mothers] being focused on children, not their work.”
  • “As an ambitious single woman in a technology company, I sometimes get frustrated by the extent to which some working mothers are carried by their peers”

With many women struggling with making it to the top, especially whilst juggling family commitments, it’s essential that women support each other in the workplace. Handling office politics and working in male teams can be challenging – these are just some of the issues we’re addressing at W-Tech next week.