Women’s networks: Professional development or victim support?

558470_352825581420930_256749491028540_869293_304626359_n-300x111

Just when you think no one could come out with a more ill-considered statement – they actually do. May 2012 Jack Welch, the famous ex-CEO of GE, suggested at a Women’s forum that women’s networking groups are simply ”victim support units” and what women need to do is “over-deliver and over-perform“. Seemingly this comment was followed by a horrified silence. He had a lucky escape!

 

If men attending networking and training forums are considered to be undergoing management and professional development, why would women acquiring exactly the same skills be seen to be part of a victim support program? 3Plus has been set up to support women in the achievement of their professional goals. All women participating would say that they are seeking personal and professional development. Not one would consider themselves to be a ”victim”, which is I’m sure the way most members of women’s networks the world over feel. It also makes a mockery of the true meaning of “victim“. There is no doubt that there are many individuals globally, both men and women, who are genuinely victims and need support. And obviously if there are victims, by Jack Welch’s usage, that also means there must be perpetrators.

Fresh back from the JUMP Forum in Paris where I ran a Personal Branding workshop and then participated later in the day, as a delegate, I could see first hand the added value and impact that a women’s network and event can have on a group of women. My own atelier was up first and the theme was back to basics. Identifying and articulating your own success stories: simply putting into words achievements and skills is key to the creation of a personal brand and critical in developing a career management strategy. This is a process that from my own observations I would say men and women can struggle with in equal measure, so it’s a gender-neutral training. But once men understand the process, they are generally fine. Women however, have other challenges for which they need to develop awareness and learn additional skills to overcome.

Playing catch-up

Men have been socialized, trained and recognized to stand out in their own spheres since we moved out of caves. Women on the other hand, are socialized, trained and generally not recognized in their roles as wives, daughters, sisters, mothers as well as domestically and administratively, for supporting men. What is key is that in the last 40 years for the first time women are competing with men in critical mass in their arenas. So women are playing catch up and men are having to learn their way to handle it too. Old school boomers (like Jack Welch) are being caught off-guard and flail around, which I hope accounts for such a mindless remark.

The good life?

Women in France would seem to have it all, with great employment conditions, maternity leave, post-natal and childcare possibilities that are the envy of many other countries. In addition, although women constitute 20% of board membership, somewhat surprisingly, France was in 48th position in the World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report in 2011. This is attributable to 2 main areas of disparity: political and economic. With women compromising 50% of the new French government cabinet, I imagine the political component of that statistic will surely move upwards, but further anomalies are evidenced by French women earning 26% less than their male counterparts and still carrying out 66% of household chores.

So there is clearly a pardox relating to the talent pipeline which needs closer examination. This is further reflected in additional research which suggests that 75% of French people believe that men generally have better lives than women. French historian Michelle Perrot says “France may be Scandinavian in its employment statistics, but it remains profoundly Latin in attitude”, and Senior Director World Economic Forum, Saadia Zahidi adds that in France “corporate culture does not encourage the rise of women”.

So when I posed a question to my workshop (comprised mainly of French women) asking how comfortable they felt publicly owning their professional successes in their, for the most part, male-dominated corporate cultures, almost 100% said they felt inhibited. As the day progressed, I observed the participants coming out of their shells. Many women sought me out to tell me how the combination of practical training and intellectual debate in a collaborative and supportive environment had given them huge added value.

Nature not gender

This was a mainly female environment but there were also men playing key roles. For most women it was a welcome change from the frequently disinterested, uninformed or even critical audience which is quite often the norm for them. However, the main factor for women is generally the nature not the gender of the network.  Women are just trying to have their needs met and this is where it can happen. For most it is a supplement to their other professional activities.

But more importantly, why women taking charge of their own careers, in their own way, in an environment created to support them, makes them victims in Jack Welch’s eyes is simply beyond my comprehension.

This is just another case of “damned if we do, doomed if we don’t.

What do you think?

P.S. 30th May 2012:  In the interests of total transparency and to gain further understanding I received the tweet shown below from Jack Welch and offered him the opportunity to amplify his view-point via a comment.   ” @EszterforCEE @DorothyDalton Thanks for comment..I was totally taken out of context..good luck with your career”.

Share small business news, blogs and social media tips with Project Eve’s community of small business owners and entrepreneurs today. Our contributors come from a wide range of backgrounds; so whether you are a small business owner, social media strategist, financial adviser, serial entrepreneur, or write an amateur blog we urge you to contribute a blog to our 350,000+ community today. For more information, please refer to our Content Submissions Guidelines.

Add a Blog

56 COMMENTS

  1. Good post. I’m a regular visitor of your web site and appreciate you taking the time to maintain the excellent site. I’ll be a regular visitor for a really long time.

  2. Admiring the time and energy you put into your site and detailed information you offer. It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same unwanted rehashed information. Fantastic read! I’ve bookmarked your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

  3. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up! I’ll go ahead and bookmark your website to come back down the road. Many thanks

  4. Wow, wonderful weblog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you make running a blog glance easy. The full look of your web site is excellent, as smartly as the content!

  5. Hi there, I discovered your blog via Google at the same time as looking for a similar topic, your web site came up, it appears to be like good. I’ve bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.

  6. Wonderful blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News. Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Many thanks

  7. Thanks for helping me to obtain new concepts about pcs. I also have belief that certain of the best ways to help keep your laptop in leading condition is with a hard plastic material case, or shell, which fits over the top of the computer. A lot of these protective gear are usually model distinct since they are made to fit perfectly in the natural outer shell. You can buy all of them directly from the seller, or via third party sources if they are available for your notebook, however only a few laptop could have a spend on the market. Yet again, thanks for your guidelines.

  8. I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high quality articles or blog posts on this kind of area . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this web site. Reading this info So i am happy to convey that I have a very good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make sure to do not forget this site and give it a look regularly.

  9. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  10. I have learned newer and more effective things through your blog post. Also a thing to I have recognized is that normally, FSBO sellers will certainly reject you actually. Remember, they’d prefer not to use your services. But if a person maintain a comfortable, professional romance, offering assistance and being in contact for about four to five weeks, you will usually be able to win a business interview. From there, a house listing follows. Thanks a lot

  11. One thing I’d really like to say is always that car insurance cancelling is a dreadful experience so if you’re doing the right things like a driver you’ll not get one. Many people do receive the notice that they’ve been officially dropped by their particular insurance company and many have to struggle to get added insurance from a cancellation. Low cost auto insurance rates tend to be hard to get following a cancellation. Knowing the main reasons with regard to auto insurance termination can help motorists prevent sacrificing one of the most important privileges readily available. Thanks for the ideas shared by means of your blog.

  12. Howdy would you mind sharing which blog platform you’re using? I’m going to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your design and style seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something unique. P.S My apologies for getting off-topic but I had to ask!

  13. One thing I want to say is always that car insurance cancelling is a feared experience and if you are doing the proper things like a driver you simply won’t get one. A number of people do receive the notice that they have been officially dumped by the insurance company they have to struggle to get extra insurance following a cancellation. Inexpensive auto insurance rates are generally hard to get following a cancellation. Knowing the main reasons for auto insurance cancellations can help individuals prevent sacrificing one of the most important privileges out there. Thanks for the suggestions shared through your blog.

  14. After I originally commented I clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you possibly can remove me from that service? Thanks!

  15. Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this site with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely loving the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers! Terrific blog and superb design and style.

  16. Aw, this was a really nice post. In concept I wish to put in writing like this additionally – taking time and actual effort to make an excellent article… however what can I say… I procrastinate alot and not at all appear to get something done.

  17. It is the happiest time of my life so far, when I am watching these funny video clips here, since after whole day working I was so tired and now feeling perfectly.

  18. My spouse and i ended up being very thankful Edward could finish off his inquiry from the precious recommendations he grabbed through your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to simply possibly be freely giving secrets and techniques which many others might have been making money from. We discover we’ve got the website owner to be grateful to for that. All the explanations you have made, the simple website navigation, the friendships you can aid to create – it’s got all astounding, and it’s leading our son and our family do think this concept is awesome, and that is tremendously important. Thank you for the whole lot!

  19. Hi there! This article couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this article reminds me of my previous roommate! He always kept talking about this. I will send this information to him. Fairly certain he’s going to have a good read. I appreciate you for sharing!

  20. Hiya! Quick question that’s entirely off topic. Do you know how to make your site mobile friendly? My weblog looks weird when viewing from my iphone 4. I’m trying to find a template or plugin that might be able to resolve this problem. If you have any suggestions, please share. Thanks!

  21. I do love the manner in which you have presented this matter plus it really does supply us a lot of fodder for thought. Nevertheless, coming from what precisely I have seen, I simply just hope as the actual feedback stack on that people continue to be on point and not start on a tirade of some other news du jour. Yet, thank you for this excellent point and though I do not necessarily go along with it in totality, I respect the standpoint.

  22. I cling on to listening to the news broadcast speak about receiving boundless online grant applications so I have been looking around for the most excellent site to get one. Could you advise me please, where could i acquire some?

  23. naturally like your web-site but you have to check the spelling on quite a few of your posts. Several of them are rife with spelling issues and I find it very bothersome to tell the truth nevertheless I’ll definitely come back again.

  24. Howdy! I know this is somewhat off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at options for another platform. I would be great if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  25. I would also like to add that in case you do not surely have an insurance policy or maybe you do not form part of any group insurance, you might well benefit from seeking assistance from a health agent. Self-employed or those with medical conditions commonly seek the help of a health insurance brokerage service. Thanks for your text.

  26. I haven’t checked in here for a while because I thought it was getting boring, but the last handful of posts are really good quality so I guess I’ll add you back to my everyday bloglist. You deserve it my friend. :)

  27. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon everyday. It will always be exciting to read articles from other authors and use a little something from their web sites.

  28. Heya i’m for the first time here. I found this board and I in finding
    It truly useful & it helped me out much. I’m hoping to offer one thing back and aid
    others like you aided me.

  29. Heya i am for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really useful & it helped me out much. I am hoping to give one thing again and help others like you helped me.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here