Finding the right organization and culture to thrive in is a personal endeavor. What works for some, may not work for others. You have to be able to fit within the structure and character of a company to perform at your best. For women in male-dominated industries, this can be an uphill battle. But remember, you always have choices.
First, you have to figure out what you want. Get clear and focused on your own strengths, values, priorities, and goals. Understand your career aspirations and goals. Only you can determine what is best for you. Then, evaluate your organization and culture.
Ultimately, to be successful you need to find a corporate culture with men that have a strong desire to support and advance women. Culture is driven from the top down. Leadership defines the values, and more importantly, the behaviors of a culture and organization. These values show up significantly in overall decision-making and how to promote within.
Aileron, a national non-profit organization dedicated to unleashing the potential of private businesses through professional management, defines culture as the “values and beliefs as demonstrated through the real behavior of the organization.” This definition captures the heart of the issue.
An organization can have stated values and beliefs that define their culture. However, it is only through the real behaviors and how they live up to those stated values that determine the true culture. Furthermore, what is allowed to happen is actually promoted by leadership. This is why it is important to observe a culture in action and not just rely on the defined values listed on their website.
So, how do you evaluate the culture of a company? How do you know if your persistence will pay off? Or when is it time to pack your bags and seek new adventures?
Ask yourself these questions:
- Are there any women on the Board of Directors? How many women are represented in Senior Leadership (C-Suite and senior executive staff)?
- What is the senior leadership commitment to advance women at all levels of the organization?
- What networks are available or unavailable to women? Are there informal networks that meet to influence that actively discourage or admit women?
- Does the organization have a leadership development plan process for individuals? Are women equally represented?
- Is there a measurement of results to achieve more women in higher-level positions?
- Is there a perception of fairness amongst all employees – men and women?
- Are the right people being promoted for the right reasons?
- Are senior level men sponsoring women?
- Are leaders comfortable discussing the aspirations and asking about them of women?
- Do women in the organization feel like they “belong” and are treated equally?
Reach out to others – both men and women – in your organization to truly understand the culture. If your career goal is to pursue an executive role, it’s imperative that you find the right industry, organization, and culture to support your path. Discuss the expectations of the executive role you are pursuing. Does it match your personal values, priorities, talents, and strengths? You are the driver in this race. You make the moves to open new doors of opportunity.
In my opinion, the culture of an organization is the critical piece to decipher in order to truly understand your potential for success. As a woman in a male-dominated discipline or industry, the culture of the organization will tell you more about your prospective success than anything else. If the culture does not support the advancement of women, you have two choices. Either you can decide you will be the trailblazer or you decide that your efforts will be best rewarded in another environment. For high-achieving women, this decision may be a difficult one to make.
If you are struggling to figure out whether or not you are a good fit in your organization, contact me for a complimentary BEST Next Move Strategy Session. Let’s work together to create the career results you desire.