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A Study of the Promotion to Partner Process in a PSF: How Women are Disadvantaged BAM GIM SIG – January 2007 Dr. Savita Kumra.

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Presentation on theme: "A Study of the Promotion to Partner Process in a PSF: How Women are Disadvantaged BAM GIM SIG – January 2007 Dr. Savita Kumra."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Study of the Promotion to Partner Process in a PSF: How Women are Disadvantaged BAM GIM SIG – January 2007 Dr. Savita Kumra

2 Career Advancement of Women Widespread research studying career progression managerial/professional women Women experience greater difficulties in achieving senior positions despite: Similar education levels Years of Service Job Performance (Powell, 1990) Glass ceiling defines this phenomenon, evidence it remains intact (Powell, 2000; Burke & Nelson, 2002) However is the glass ceiling the same in all contexts? Argue for a more differentiated treatment of the phenomenon

3 Women in the Professional Services Firm Trends show increasing numbers of women entering PSFs including, law, accounting, consulting and banking. Many firms now have a majority of women at entry level, e.g. law firms Partner aspirational position; but few women in these positions – typically 7-15% Reasons for attraction: Level playing field (Crompton & Sanderson, 1986) High salary, respect, job security and rewarding challenges (Eckberg, 2001)

4 Promotion to Partner Process May present particular issues for women (Spurr, 1990; Spurr & Sueyoshi, 1993) Statistical discrimination rather than economic discrimination Risk of women leaving because they relocate with their partner Discrimination in the promotion to partner decision- making process Evidence to support this from: Malos & Campion (1995) options-based model which doesnt take account of subjectivity Gilson & Mnookin (1989) many of the criteria for promotion to partner are inherently subjective

5 The Study Single-site case study of an international consulting firm Interviewed 34 male and female consultants at various levels within the firm around their perception of the promotion to partner process Analysed interviews using Nvivo software; enabling a systematic approach to data analysis in order to determine key themes/issues

6 Findings 3 main areas of disadvantage for women were identified These were: Understand Rules of the Game (86%) Self-managed nature of career development (97%) Fit mould to succeed (74%

7 Understand the Rules of the Game Formal systems dont always operate as they should; grateful to more senior organisational members for pointing this out To assess the rules of the game important to know what the firm values and ensure contributions are recognised and rewarded some of the people Ive worked with have worked 12/13 hours a day and expect themselves to get noticed and promoted on the basis of that, and I have to take some of those people to one side and say its not the way it works here, but unfortunately most of the people tend to feel that (Female Principal Consultant) Active management upwards also felt to be a key way to achieve advancement

8 Self-Managed Career Development Process Necessity because of project-based nature, and geographic mobility of employees for individuals to be self-motivated to seek out opportunities to build their careers The reason its a relatively unmanaged business is that there isnt anybody to think about people that are off on assignment working (Male Consultant) I think you have to be quite proactive when you arrive. I think if youve got a good partner whos looking after you theyre doing the promotion for you, but if you havent then you have to get around and knock on doors and just be in peoples faces and say Im here, can I help? Get involved in something, anything just to get on the radar screen (Male Consultant)

9 Self-Managed Career Development Process Evident that women less comfortable with proactive nature of the process Examples given of Networking (54% female sample expressing some discomfort, cf. 13% males) The people that get promoted quickly are exceptionally effective networkers, interestingly that doesnt suit women (Female Consultant) Self-promotion also discussed (72%), expected and accepted way of operating, couldnt expect busy seniors to notice achievements needed to tell them Show you are interested and promote yourself. Make sure people know who you are and what you do (Female) with 48% of the female sample indicating discomfort with the process I absolutely cringe, it tends to be people just saying how wonderful they are, or telling the partner how wonderful the partner is. Its just obvious and I find it really difficult (Female Consultant)

10 Fit Mould to Succeed Discussed by 74% of interviewees: Prevailing success model within the firm requiring visible commitment, and aquiescence with requests …there is a mould youve got to fit and if you dont fit that the other bits youve got never get pulled out (Male) Nature of the mould gendered; masculine culture, success measured against this just to summarise and say that it is nothing to do with quality of work and I think it is fair to say that people have much in the way of glass ceilings and having said that it is a very male culture, and the people that do get into the partnership tend to be like existing partners (Male Director)

11 Fit Mould to Succeed Example given of impression management Discussed by 83%; conscious others impressions could affect career progress, important to manage impressions However only women in the sample mentioned IM: IM as a defensive strategy (58%) Not everyone would agree with me on this, but Ive always felt that people do not want the full you in the working environment (Female Director) IM of ambition (34%) Be open about ambition with the right people. Just putting a marker on yourself as being very ambitious makes sense, because although most people dont want to stand still, theres a big difference between most people and the person who is ambitious (Female consultant) The need to be liked (44%)

12 Discussion Understand rules of game, disadvantages women because: Tend to rely more on formal processes (Stewart & Gudykunst, 1982; Hennig & Jardim, 1977) Women less likely to be part of informal structures, ( Reif et al, 1975) Joined PSF for level playing field (Crompton & Sanderson, 1986) Self-managed career, disadvantages women because: Men culturally conditioned to take credit for personal achievement (Buss, 1988); women more likely to co-operate (Nelson, 1978) Self-promotion intuitively and normatively more acceptable for men than women (Miller et al, 1992) Authors, 2001; more women believed that their hard work would be noticed, senior women did not feel this. Fit Mould to succeed, disadvantages women because: Burden to disprove negative gender stereotypes (Heilman, 1983) Less access to developmental opportuntiies Commitment frequently questioned (Gammie & Gammie, 1995)

13 Conclusion Thus call for a differentiated treatment of glass ceiling phenomenon Helps understand sector-based issues; and the combined effect on womens advancement of firm-based and societally-based factors

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