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40-44岁:商界女性的黄金年龄

Leigh Gallagher 2014年10月20日

《财富》40位40岁以下的商界精英榜单中,为何鲜有女性上榜?其原因很简单:步入公司高层,或者创业成功的女性精英,往往都在40岁以上。

     
今年早些时候,41岁的简•兰黛成为雅诗兰黛最大业务部门倩碧的全球品牌总裁。

    我早已预料到读者会有怎样的不满。比如,从上周以来收到的几条有代表性的Twitter留言:“#《财富》40(#Fortune40)中的女性为什么这么少?”“我们需要更多女性上榜。”“真令人震惊……不到一半?醒醒吧。”

    《财富》40位40岁以下的商界精英(Fortune 40 Under 40)榜单由我领导的团队负责,我们会每年一次评选出40岁以下最具影响力的商界精英。从榜单推出以来,上榜的女性数量,尤其是女性不足的问题,一直是热门话题。

    我很高兴地告诉大家,现在这已经不是问题了。今年的榜单上,有39岁的雅虎(Yahoo)CEO梅丽莎•梅耶,出任这项职位时,她是最年轻的《财富》500强公司(Fortune 500)领导人;英国水务公司Severn Trent的CEO奥利维亚•加菲尔德,也是富时100指数公司(FTSE 100)仅有的五位女性CEO之一(包括所有年龄段);Twitter公司首席法律顾问维杰亚•加德,是该公司管理团队中唯一的女性;以及伊莉莎白•霍尔姆斯,她的血液诊断初创公司Theranos的市值已经达到90亿美元。

    但今年上榜的女性只有15位。40个人只有15位女性,这远谈不上平等。这也是读者不满的原因。

    当然,我们承认:我们需要更多女性上榜。我们当然希望榜单中有一半是女性。但榜单中女性人数的不足,在事实上反映了当前的现状。而且,我意识到,这种不足也印证了关于商界女性的一条不言自明的真理。对于40岁以下的女性,商业成就(主要是收入、资金、公司规模)能与同龄男性相媲美的女性候选人,远远低于我们的期望。但再看看40至44岁的女性,你会发现女性数量激增,而且她们担任的职位更高。所以,我认为,商界女性的黄金年龄是40-44岁。

    在进行40位40岁以下商业精英榜单调查过程中,我们经常遇到一些新人,我们认为她肯定能够上榜,结果却发现她超过了榜单的门槛,已经40岁或41岁,这样的情况数不胜数。例如今年,我们听说一家大型银行有一位年轻的部门CEO,这令我们兴奋不已。在办公室里,大家都兴高采烈,能为这个榜单找到担任高层职位的新人,就像找到圣杯一样,后来我们发现,她在几个月前刚刚过了40岁生日。在参与榜单评选工作的多年间,我曾多次遭遇类似的失望经历,以至于我找了个词来形容它:“四十欢悦”,这是对40位40岁以下商界精英榜单的幸灾乐祸。对于过了40岁的精英女性,我们为她们的成功感到高兴;我们只是希望她们依旧能符合评选资格。

    The complaints each year are by now predictable. A few sample tweets since last week: “Why so few women on the #Fortune40?” “We need more women on this list.” “Astounding… Less than half? Wake up.”

    I oversee the team that puts together the Fortune 40 Under 40 list, our once-a-year ranking of the most influential people in business under age 40 (head here to check out this year’s list). And for as long as we’ve been doing it, the topic of the number of women on the list—specifically, the lack thereof—has been an issue.

    I’m happy to report that it’s become less of an issue. This year we have impressive women like Marissa Mayer, the 39-year-old CEO of Yahoo YHOO -3.08% who became the youngest person to head a Fortune 500 company the year she stepped in; Olivia Garfield, CEO of UK water company Severn Trent and one of five women CEOs—of any age—on the FTSE 100; VijayaGadde, general counsel of Twitter TWTR -3.79% and the only woman on the executive team; and Elizabeth Holmes, whose blood-diagnostic startup Theranos is valued at $9 billion. (Read our June cover story on Holmes, “This CEO is out for blood.”)

    But there are only 15 women on the list. 15 out of 40 is not parity—far from it. And that’s where the complaints come in.

    Of course we agree: we need more women on this list. And we’d love to have half of the 40 be women. But the deficit on our list reflects the deficit in reality. It also reflects a truism about women in business I’ve come to realize. When it comes to women under 40, the universe of candidates whose business achievements (typically that’s revenue, funding, size or scale of company) match men of the same age group is much smaller than we’d like it to be. But when you look at women between 40 and 44, the universe of powerful women explodes in number — and their roles are much bigger. The sweet spot for women in business, I would argue, is ages 40 to 44.

    I can’t even count the number of times we’ve come across a new name during the 40 Under 40 research process who we think is a shoe-in for the list only to discover she’s just missed the cutoff and is actually 40 or 41. This year, to cite just one example, we were thrilled to learn about a young divisional CEO at a major bank. We were briefly elated in the office—discovering new people in very big jobs is the holy grail for this list—until we learned she’d turned 40 just months prior. This kind of disappointment has happened to me so many times over the years that I have a word for it: fortyfreude; it’sschadenfreude, of the 40 under 40 variety. We’re so happy for their success; we only wish they were still eligible.

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