New research, and interviews with executive women, reveal the traits that can help women get ahead at work
It’s not easy selling bras to men.
Especially when you’re visibly pregnant, as Orit Hashay was when she began trying to raise money among mostly male investors to start Brayola, an online lingerie shop. “The investors liked my ideas, [but] they seemed preoccupied with the prospect of me entering motherhood and how it might change my priorities,” she tells Moneyish. “They suggested I wait.”
She wasn’t having it, and “eventually won them around,” crediting her persistence, “guts and patience” with helping her succeed. Brayola hit $10 million in revenue at the end of last year and is on track to hit $27 million this year.
Female CEOs and execs have these 3 things in common https://t.co/UNk3hCzSse
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) October 4, 2017
Whether starting their own businesses, or climbing the corporate ladder, women — like Hashay — face a unique set of challenges in getting ahead at work, from lower pay to perceptions about them choosing motherhood over work. But many employ certain strategies to help them get ahead, according to a survey released Wednesday from Accenture on so-called “fast track” women — defined as women who hit certain milestones by certain times, like C-suite or owner in 26 years or less, executive vice president in 21 years or less. Here’s what these fast-track women do differently than other women.
They ask for the raises and promotions they deserve
Fifty-two-year-old Paige Arnof-Fen — the former CMO of Zipcar and now the founder and CEO of a marketing firm that counts Microsoft and Virgin among its clients — began her career on Wall Street in the male-dominated 80s. After putting in 100 hour weeks and achieving top-notch results, she discovered that she was only in the second-tier bonus pool. “I looked my boss right in the face and said … ‘you should pay me what I’m worth’,” she tells Moneyish. “I don’t always get it, but I always ask.”
She shares that gumption with other women who have broken through the glass ceiling. Nearly two in three fast-track women (63%) have asked for a pay raise, compared to fewer than half of those not on the fast track, according to Accenture. They’re also more likely to ask for promotions: 55% vs. 33% of non-fast-track women.
Bottom line: “If you don’t ask, you won’t know or get it, that simple. Things don’t drop out of the sky,” says Rhonda Vetere, the CTO of Estee Lauder Companies.
They are early adopters of new technology and keep their technological skills up-to-date
Brayola’s Hashay says she is “always thinking about the next step of the technology” and Sally Poblete, 44, the founder and CEO of health insurance firm Wellthie notes that keeping up with technology is “one of the most critical success factors.”
That’s something other high-level female execs do too. Nearly eight in ten (78%) fast-track women are early adopters of technology (versus 37% of the rest of us); 84% believe that technological skills are vital to helping them get ahead at work (versus 68%); and 51% of fast track women continuously update their digital skills versus 32% other women.
Mary Hamilton, the managing director of Accenture Technology Lab, notes that being tech-savvy even helps women in unexpected ways — like having a relationship with senior leadership on social media when you might not get that chance in person. For Liat Sade-Sternberg, the CEO of augmented reality company Fuse.it, it enables work-life balance: “One of the major barriers of a start-up CEO and a parent is ‘time management,’ and keeping up with technology enables me to be much more efficient,” she tells Moneyish.
They have a clear vision of their long-term lofty career goals
Even when she was just a student at Harvard Business school, marketing exec Arnof-Fenn knew exactly what she wanted to be: “A Fortune 500 CEO. The next Meg Whitman,” she tells Moneyish.
Most fast-track women also have a clear idea of this too. More than two-thirds (67%) aspire to senior leadership early in their careers (compared to just 39% of non-fast-track women). And fully 85% have a clear vision of their long-term career goals, versus 62% of other women.
They are also willing to switch roles or companies to help them reach these goals: 48% of fast-track women have done this versus 36% of others. Vetere of Estee Lauder Companies says her career choices have been “very deliberate,” noting that she’s moved “from finance, to insurance, to outsourcing, to services, to retail, to beauty.”
Abd Peggy Yu, the Startup Institute’s COO, tells Moneyish she switches roles “all the time” earlier in her career to get ahead. “After business school, I knew I wanted a business development role in tech, so I took a client services role, a close cousin of business development,” she says. She leveraged the relationships she developed there to find a business development job a few year later ,”a pivotal switch in my career [that] allowed me to fully transition into tech and the BD role.”
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