Last week I wrote a post following my interview with Martha Heller, an experienced CIO watcher and savvy recruiter specializing in placing IT executives, who expressed the view that women should consider pursuing a career in a female-friendly field like marketing rather than venture onto the male-dominated CIO career track. Heller noted that it’s difficult to fill a CIO vacancy with a woman, simply because the female talent pool is so low. It’s certainly a topic that warrants further discussion, especially in terms of how this gender divide relates to the disproportionately low number of women in high-profile, mission-critical corporate roles.
First of all, it’s worth noting that if there was any outcry or backlash from women against Heller’s stand, I didn’t hear it. If anything, I heard general agreement. For example, Sabine Everaet, CIO of Coca-Cola’s European operation, tweeted this in response to my blog post:
I agree: no pipeline of women ready, BUT as role evolves into digital, more women needed.
Meanwhile, Julie Lynch, principal at Uncommon Consulting and former vice president of human resources at Computerworld and InfoWorld, expressed strong support for Heller’s willingness to tell it like it is:
Just because you don't like something doesn't make it less real. And pretending something doesn't exist sets everyone up for failure. The best person for the job is the best person for the job. That said, run your organization with integrity, be a place where people want to work, be clear about job responsibilities, don't make assumptions and cast your net wide to recruit a diverse workforce. If you truly value diversity, like Martha says, if the needle is that important, you'll commit to spending time looking through the haystacks.
No doubt, Lynch’s advice to companies to cast a wide recruiting net is every bit as valuable as Heller’s admonition against insisting on filling the CEO position with a woman as a means of furthering diversity. In any case, it’s worth remembering that women have a disproportionately low representation in the jobs that are key to getting ahead in global companies.
Last month, Catalyst, a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of opportunities for women in the work place, released the results of a study that found that women get fewer of the “hot” jobs that predict advancement — those mission-critical roles involving high-visibility projects and international experience — than men. Here are a few highlights from the study: