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职场 - 专栏

职业女性应该如何玩转办公室政治

Lauren Schiller 2016年07月04日

对女性来说,在由“一群白人男性”创办的公司里工作,不免会遭遇危机。

 
 

我们都听说过,董事会里有女性成员的企业往往具有较高的收益;我们也听说过,女性比例更高的团队有更高的集体智慧。然而我们还听说过,由女性担任的最高领导职位的数量仍旧增长得非常缓慢。那么,我们既然已经了解职场多样化的好处,如何才能让更多女性坐上更高的位子?

Women Unlimited公司的董事长兼CEO罗西娜·拉西奥比所从事的工作,就是要为这个问题给出一个答案。拉西奥比的公司致力于帮助女性在领导岗位上充分发挥自身潜能,其客户包括Adobe Systems、拜耳、高露洁、保诚集团等许多全球大型企业。

我近日对拉西奥比进行了专访,话题包括我们为什么需要像Women Unlimited公司提出的这种女性职业发展项目,为什么一些女性会选择退出职场,以及我们应该怎样拉平薪资待遇方面的性别差距等等。

为了清晰起见,本文刊发的采访文字稿有所删节。你可以在由Women Unlimited赞助的网络广播Inflection Point上收听本次采访的完整音频。

《财富》:女性为什么需要专门的职业发展项目?

罗西娜·拉西奥比:我不知道女性是否需要一些特殊的东西,但我认为,女性在职场中的确需要一些与她们的男性同僚不同的东西,尤其是如果她们想在职业生涯中追求更大的进步的话。女性在企业中的感受与男性是很不同的,这主要是由于企业的氛围是由企业的创始人设计的——而这些企业创始人基本上都是白人男性。既然我们与男性同僚有着不同的职场预期,我们就需要帮助女性解码职场格局。而女性职业发展项目则可以在这方面帮助她们。

《财富》:你的工作主要是协助“《财富》1000强”企业,也就是一些规模最大的企业,而他们主要都是由男性创办的。

拉西奥比:虽然我们的合作伙伴大都是全球性的跨国公司,但他们基本上都是由几名白人男性创办的。这一点其实无可厚非——他们都是非常聪明能干、极有商业头脑的人。但是这些企业的体系,即企业的发展方式,主要是基于这些创始人的看法。随着女性加入这些企业,并且开始在这种架构下发展自己的职业生涯,这种基于另一种世界观形成的架构,自然不时会导致女性在职场中产生挫败感。

拉西奥比:女性喜欢的工作方式与男性同僚是很不同的。研究告诉我们,男性比较喜欢等级分明的架构,而女性一般喜欢更能体现团体观念的组织架构。我们不是说这两种架构谁对谁错,毕竟它们只是看待组织结构的两个不同的视角。而当你开始干一份新工作的时候,没有人会告诉你这些事,没有人会告诉你公司背后的运作方式。每个企业都有很多规定和政策,但只有当我们试图完成一些工作或是与其他人进行合作的时候,我们才会意识到企业的工作方式背后隐藏的玄机。正是企业文化中的这一部分,给女性造成了男性员工并不会碰到的壁垒。

《财富》:当你与一家企业合作时,如果他们已经确定了一些具有较大职业潜力的女性,并且请你们协助发展她们的职业前景,你们会怎样对她们进行培训?

拉西奥比:许多女性已经到了职业生涯的一个关键的节点上,需要重新调整一下她们的技能。但她们没有开发自己的关系网络,也没有自己的导师,这样我们就无法知道她是不是已经做好了准备去迎接新的机会。很多女性只是喜欢默默地完成工作,然后用工作成绩来说话,因为我们总是非常独立地工作,没有建立起那些关系。因此,我们也就得不到那些反馈。而我们的项目重点就在于帮助女性明确这些压力与挑战,并且制定解决这些问题的策略。我们不是要对女性的这些遭遇表示同情,更重要的是要指出一条路:“我们对这些问题该怎么做?”

除了要与女性朋友在职场开发项目中合作以外,我们还会这些女性朋友的经理们进行合作。他们不仅仅要明白这一开发项目都包括什么,更重要的是要明白他们自身在这一开发过程中所扮演的角色。也就是说,他们需要怎样做,才能把女性从该项目中的收获回馈到企业中,以享受到投资的回报率。

《财富》:你刚刚提到,女性的职业生涯中会有一系列关键的转折点,当时机到来的时候,我们需要抓住这些机会。那么,当这些转折点来临的时候,女性怎样才能识别出这些机会?她们应该怎么做?

拉西奥比:我想说,不论男人还是女人,我们每个人都会碰到这些问题。我们都上过大学,我们都具备某一特定领域的技能。比方说,我的第一份工作是在一家公司里担任工程师,我对公司的影响力主要是通过我对专业技能的妥善运用而形成的。但是一旦我的职务获得了晋升,我就要管理其他工程师了。而我形成影响力的方式也不再像以前那样直接,跟以往一样只是做好一个工程师的本职工作是远远不够的。而这些微妙之处是学校没有教给我们的。我要如何对抗别人的意见,又不会显得太有对抗性?我要如何否定别人的意见,又不让别人觉得难以相处?我要如何在企业里建立起坚实的关系,使我能够应对各种挑战,从而既给公司带来最好的结果,又不损害我的现有关系?

《财富》:也就是说,你的工作不仅仅是帮助女性在职场获得提升,而是要比这更加微妙。

拉西奥比:我总是说,人们应该找到他们的职业乐趣所在。我知道你喜爱你的工作,我也喜爱我的工作。我曾见过很多人,她们在自己的岗位上把工作完成得很好,但是整个人的状态却很痛苦。我觉得如果你把职业的控制权交到别人手上,就会出现这种局面。所以我们有必要发问:“我真正擅长的事情是什么?”在得到答案后,还要进一步发问:“在我最擅长的这些事中,有哪些事是我不仅真正喜爱,还能给我的公司带来价值的?”因此我们总是会把项目的重点与企业联系起来,我们的项目的微妙之处,就在于能够帮助女性做好这种联系。

《财富》:你是如何确立了自己的这一事业目标的?你刚刚谈到了人要寻找自己的职业乐趣,你是怎样找到你的职业乐趣的?

拉西奥比:我在职业生涯早期主要从事人力资源方面的工作。我曾在几家制造和化工企业担任过人力资源部门的主管。我之所以喜爱人力资源工作,就是因为它能令我通过与业务伙伴的合作,促进人才的成长。将企业的战略与人力开发战略相结合,让我感到了很大的乐趣。我处在企业中一个十分中立的位置,我也十分喜欢这一点。后来我认识了Women Unlimited的创始人珍·奥蒂。我成了那个项目的一个导师,珍和我也成为了朋友。然后她邀请我加盟Women Unlimited。它真正把我喜爱的两个东西结合在了一起——一个是商业,另一个则是帮助他人在商界取得成功。

《财富》:你怎么看待选择半路退出职场的女性?她们是否限制了自己的职业生涯发展?这是否是一个系统性的问题?

拉西奥比:我的观点显然不能涵盖所有选择退出职场的女性。不过我曾经对处于职业生涯中段的女性做过调查,看她们是如何利用她们的导师关系的。当时我经常听到她们说的一句话就是:“我感到我的职业生涯到了一个令我很沮丧的阶段,我不知道怎么才能到达下一个层次,所以我正在考虑离开。”在我们的职业中期项目中,经常听到女性朋友的一句抱怨,那就是倦怠感。“没有人能给我一个‘解码指环’。我不知道怎样破解眼前的难题。我即便更加努力地工作,也无法获得以前那种水平的成就。”这种倦怠感是职业生涯的中期所特有的。在这种时候,选择离职做其他工作,或者干脆彻底告别职场,也就成了一个简单得多的选择。

还有一部分处于职业生涯中期的女性,将职场看成了一个非此即彼的世界。我要么工作,要么就辞职当家庭主妇。她们不觉得二者中间还有折中的余地。我记得有一次,我与一位女性乘坐同一趟航班,她告诉我她有三个孩子,她正在考虑辞职,因为她为没时间陪伴他们而感到内疚。她希望当她儿子放学回家时,她能在家里迎接他。但其实上,她的工作日程还是相当灵活的。她的老板并不在意她怎样安排一天的工作。但她仍然觉得很内疚,虽然她已经是团队中产出最高的人了。我对她说:“你能不能与你的经理坐下来谈谈,对他说:‘我需要这样安排我的时间,好让我的生活变得和谐一些’?”我们总是以为:“没有人会让我那样做的。”但你需要做的只是问一问。

如果女性朋友可以自信地说:“在我人生的这个阶段,我只有这样才能为公司做出贡献。为了达到这个目标,我有以下几条建议。”那么据我的经验,只要你的要求是合理的,大多数公司都是会同意的。但如果我们怀着这种非此即彼的心态,我们就无法得到那些机会。因此那些女性朋友就选择了退出职场。

《财富》:你怎么看待薪水问题?有人认为女性的工作价值比男性低,所以她们拿到的薪水也比较低。也有可能是我们为自己争取得不够。这个问题是否也适用“大胆要求”的理论?

我的确认为有些女性更能意识到她们的价值,也勇于与公司谈判,要求更高的薪水。然而与此同时,男女的薪资差异又是真实存在的。所以我认为,造成这个现象的一个重要原因,就是女性不敢主动要求加薪,或是没有清楚地意识到自身的价值。另外很多女性又有这样一种我之前说过的心态:“我会做好工作的,用工作成绩来证明我的能力,然后我再要求加薪。”这种心态其实拖了女性的后腿,因为某件事如果你已经愿意去做了,别人为什么还要因为它而给你更多的钱?我们应该这样想:“如果我要承担更重要的角色,或是要担负更大的职责,那么我为什么不能跟公司谈谈加薪的事,或者要求一些好处呢?如果换作我的男性同事,他们一定会提出要求的。”最糟糕的结果无非就是某人拒绝了你的提议。

《财富》:在培养人才方面,你接受过的最好的建议是什么?

我曾经得到的一个最好的建议,就是清楚地告诉员工,她们对公司的作用和贡献是什么。要帮助员工理解自己对公司产生的影响,这样她们才能看到自己的人才发展轨迹和效果。然后,我们要与人才进行一次坦诚的对话,问问她们:“你对什么比较感兴趣?”作为领导者,我们不需要为每位人才都制订发展计划,只需要帮助她们找到自己该走的路就够了。那才是一个好领导该做的事。

本文作者Lauren Schiller是公共广播节目和网络播客Inflection Point的主播。该节目在旧金山的FM 91.7 KALW频道播出,主要邀请一些力争改变现状的杰出女性进行对话。上文是广播采访稿的删节版。 (财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

We’ve heard how companies that have women on their boards have higher returns. We’ve heard how groups that include more women have a higher collective intelligence than those that don’t. Yet we’ve also heard how the number of women in top leadership positions is still growing very, very slowly. So how do we translate what we know about the power of workplace diversity into actual women getting seats at the table?

Rosina Racioppi has made a career of answering that question. As president and CEO of Women UnlimitedInc., she helps women meet their full potential as leaders at some of the world’s largest companies, including Adobe Systems , Bayer , Colgate-Palmolive, and Prudential.

I spoke with Racioppi about the why there’s a need for female-specific professional development programs like those offered by Women Unlimited, why women “opt out” and what we can do to close the gender salary gap.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. You can hear the full interview on Inflection Point, of which Women Unlimited is a sponsor.

Fortune: Why do women need a special development program?

Rosina Racioppi: I don’t know that they need something special, but I do think they need something that’s different than their male counterparts, especially if they’re seeking to advance their careers. Women have a different experience in the organization than their male counterparts, mostly because the organizations’ dynamics were designed by the people who founded them—basically white men. And since we have different expectations than our male counterparts, we need help decoding the organizational landscape that we’re a part of. So that’s what development programs can help women understand.

Your work is primarily with the Fortune 1000 companies, some of the biggest companies out there, which were primarily founded by men.

Even though most of our corporate partners are global multinationals, they were founded by a bunch of white guys. There’s nothing wrong with that—they’re very bright, wonderful, business-minded individuals—but those systems, the artifacts of how the organizations grew, were based on their perspective of how organizations should grow. As women joined the workforce and started growing their careers in structures that were designed by people who saw the world very differently, it’s no wonder that frustration was the result.

The way in which women fundamentally like to work is very different than our male counterparts. Research tells us that men tend to like that hierarchical structure. Women tend to like a much more community-minded structure. Not to say that one is a right and one is wrong—it’s a different way of viewing the organization. These are things no one tells you the day that you start a new job, the behind-the-scenes ways the organization operates. We get a lot of rules and policy, but it’s only when we are trying to get things done or work with other people that we understand the hidden ways in which things are done in the organization. And so it’s part of that culture that creates some unintended barriers for women that are not present for our male counterparts.

When you go in to work with an organization and they’ve identified their high-potential women, the women that that they want you to help develop, what is the approach to training?

Many women who are at a key juncture in their careers where they need to recalibrate their skill don’t develop those networks, those mentoring relationships, that keep us informed so that we’re prepared for that next opportunity. Women tend to get their work done and want their work to speak for itself, and because we work so independently we’re not building those relationships. Hence, we’re not getting that feedback. Our program focuses on working with the women to help them identify those stresses and challenges that they’re experiencing and develop strategies to address them. It’s not about commiserating about the challenges that we have; it’s more important to figure out, “So what are we going to do about it?”

In addition to working with women through the experiential development program, we also work with their managers. It’s important that their managers be aware of not only what is occurring during this development program, but more important what their role in this development process is. What do they need to do to ensure that they incorporate what the women are gaining through this program back into their organization so they can experience that return on investment?

You have talked about a woman’s career being a series of inflection points, that there are these opportunities that we need to take advantage of when the time comes. How can a woman identify what those points are when they’re happening, and what should she do?

I would say we all go through those, men and women. We attend college. We develop an expertise in a given area. Say I start my career as an engineer in an organization where I create impact through a very tactical utilization of my skill. But then I am promoted, so I now manage other engineers. So the way that I create impact is not as direct; it’s a lot more than me just being a good engineer. And it’s those subtleties that oftentimes we’re not taught at school. How do I confront without being confrontational? How do I disagree without being disagreeable? How do I create robust relationships in the organization that allow me to really pull apart challenges and ideas in a way that enables me to get the best results for the business, without damaging my relationships?

So the work that you is about more than helping women get promoted and move up the ladder. It sounds more nuanced than that.

I always say I think it’s important for people to find their career joy. I know you love what you do. I love the work that I do. I see a lot of people that are in roles that they can functionally perform beautifully, and they’re miserable. And I think that happens when you abdicate control over your career to other people. And so it’s important to ask, “What are the things I’m really good at?” And of that, “What is the subset that I not only really love, but that brings value to the business that I’m a part of?” So we’re always connecting it back to the business, and the nuances of our program help the women make those connections.

How did you know that this is what you were meant to do? You talked about finding joy. How did you find it?

I spent the early part of my career in human resources. I led HR departments in manufacturing and chemical companies. What I loved about being in human resources was truly partnering with my business partners to develop the talent to help them grow. Aligning the business strategy with the human development strategies — I found that to be just so much fun. I was in that neutral spot in the organization, and I loved it. I absolutely loved it. Then I met Jean Otte, the founder of Women Unlimited. I was a mentor in the program. Jean and I became friends, and then she asked me to join Women Unlimited. It really was bringing together that two things that I love: business and helping people be successful in business.

What is your thought on women who choose to “opt out” of the workforce, the women who leave midway through their careers? Are they holding themselves back? Is it a systemic problem?

I certainly can’t speak for all women who opt out. But when I did my research on women at their mid-career stage and how they leverage their mentoring relationships, one of the things that I heard consistently is, “I was at a point in my career where I was very frustrated. I could not determine how I can get to that next level. And I was thinking about leaving.” What we hear often from women in our mid-career program is that weariness. “No one gave me the decoder ring. I don’t know how to crack the code, and I’m working harder and not getting the same level of results that I once did.” This frustration is endemic across that mid-level. It seems so much easier to just leave and do something else or just opt out completely.

Another part of it is that women at that mid-career level who opt out view the world as either/or. I can either work, or I can stay home. They’re not looking at it as if there’s a middle ground. I remember being stuck on a flight with a woman who shared with me that she had three small children and was thinking of quitting because she felt guilty when she would arrange for a day to be at home when her son would get off the bus. But she had a very flexible schedule. Her boss didn’t care how she managed her day. But she still felt guilty, and she was the highest-producing person on the team. And so I said, “Can’t you possibly just sit down with your manager and say ‘this is what I need regarding my time in order to manage to have harmony in my life?’” We tend to think of it as, “No one will ever let me do that.” But you just need to ask.

If women could find their comfort in saying, “At this point in my life, this is how I can contribute to the business, and here are some of the considerations I need in order to make that happen,” I have found most businesses will say yes as long as it’s reasonable. But when we have this either/or mentality, it shuts off those opportunities. And so then we just opt out.

Where does salary come into this picture? I have heard the argument that women are valued less, so we’re paid less, or maybe we’re not negotiating well enough for ourselves. Does this come back to the “just ask” theory?

I do think that there are pockets where women are more aware of their value and therefore are asking and negotiating more. And yet the wage gap still persists. So I do think a big part of it is women aren’t asking or aren’t as mindful of their value. And then there’s that mindset that I was talking about earlier: “I’ll do the work, prove that I can do it, and then I’ll ask for the raise.” That holds women back, because why would someone give you more money for something you’re willingly doing already? We need to start thinking like this: “If I’m going to be getting a bigger role, if my role is expanding, then why wouldn’t I negotiate to get paid differently or get some sort of benefit for that? My male colleagues always would.” The worst that would happen is someone would say no.

What’s the best advice that you’ve ever been given about supporting great talent?

The best advice I’ve gotten is to give people feedback on what you consider the strengths that they bring to the organization and their role. Help them understand their impact so that they can see that trajectory of talent and impact. And then have an honest dialogue about: “What are you interested in? What would you like to be doing?” As a leader, we don’t need to create the plan for the individual. We need to help them craft it for themselves. That’s really what a good leader does.

Lauren Schiller is the host of Inflection Point, a public radio show and podcast produced at KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco, featuring conversations with women who are changing the status quo. The above article is an edited and condensed version of the broadcast interview. Click here to listen to the full audio.

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