EWN & Women Executives: Food for Thought.

This week on Tuesday night (written on April 22, 2016) , I attended the first event of EWN: the Executive Women Network, a new Ghanaian initiative founded and spearheaded by Maidie Arkutu (MD Unilever Ghana), Freda Duplan (MD Nestle Ghana), Edith Dankwa (CEO Business and Financial Times), Lucy Quist (MD Airtel Ghana), Patience Akyianu (MD, Barclays Bank Ghana) and Pearl Esua-Mensah (Founder & CEO, Feniks Limited).

It was an excellent event, well-organized and a perfect place to network with fellow female executives and it has probably set the bar for excellence in Executive Women networking activities. Coming back home, I start thinking about us and what is the difference between female and male executives: so below are a few thoughts; these are not absolute search results but just Food for Thought.

1. Are we good mentors to others?
It seems (personal observation of mine and other women in my network) that female executives have less protégées than male ones and we tend to “overcoach” (I don\’t want to use overcriticise) our protégées and under-sponsor them. When I watch my husband coaching his protégées, I see him going out of his way to advise and guide them; I understand the power of the \’old boys\’-network. Do we women do the same thing? Do we push our mentorees to excel the same way?

2. Do we engage and delegate better?
A 2014 Gallup study found that employees who work for a female manager are more engaged on average than those who work for a male manager. Women who reported to female managers had the highest level of engagement, at 35 percent; men who reported to other men reported the lowest, at 25 percent.

By the way, according to a 2014 McKinsey study, about three-quarters of men believe that teams with significant numbers of women perform more successfully.

3. Are we better external communicators? In Social Media?

Women executives seem to be more at ease in all external communications compared to their male colleagues. Female executives talk more to the media in general and they actively do engage more and leverage all sorts of social media too, effectively communicating the messages and branding of their companies.

If we look at 2014 Fortune\’s Most Powerful Women list, almost 80% of them are engaging online, from Tweeter to Facebook, to YouTube, etc and of course on their company website.

Quantitatively and qualitatively, it seems that male executives are not active at the same levels on external communications.

4.Are there industry barriers for Women Executives?

According to the March 14th 2016 statistics of the US National Center for Educational Statistics (nces.ed.gov): there is “a number of industry sectors—especially automotive and industrial manufacturing, energy and basic materials, and technology—which are unable to attract women for entry-level positions, so women are poorly represented throughout the talent pipeline. This problem usually arises from recruiting challenges or pre-pipeline problems, particularly the low graduation rates of women in industry feeder programs such as engineering, where they receive about 20 percent, 24 percent, and 23 percent of bachelor\’s, master\’s, and doctor\’s degrees, respectively”.

Possibly the numbers are similar in all countries.If there are no college- and employee- entries in those sectors, the possibilities of finding women executives present -who have been groomed in these industries- are possibly nil.

We have plenty of programs in Ghana emphasizing and focusing on Women in Technology, but these tend to be oriented towards IT and Telecoms and maybe (rarely) Agriculture. If there are programs and activities on non-HighTech, my apologies- I am not aware of them.

5. Does Gender really matter?
According to a 2015 survey by Pew (http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2015/01/14/women-and-leadership/), the majority of men and women agree that gender does not play a role in a person\’s ability to lead a business.

80% of men and women, who were surveyed by Pew, said that neither men nor women have leadership styles that make them more successful in business. Interesting fact: 31% of those surveyed said that top female executives may be more honest and ethical than male executives.

Research at Northwestern University (by professor Alice Eagly) points out that on average, female executives tend to be “more participative, collaborative, transformational and democratic and they use less transactional, authoritative and \’command-control\’ styles”.

6. How is the Corporate World changing? And what about Ghana?

In 1995 there were no Female Fortune 500 CEOs. Now they are close to 30 and the number is growing. Progress is been made, but we have long way to go.

But again, looking at those 6 CEOs who founded EWN, maybe things in Ghana are more progressive and progressing ion other parts of the World.

By the way, it seems that Ghana Leads Africa with highest number of Women Telecom- CEOs!

According to a March 2016 McKinsey study: “women were 85 percent as likely as their male counterparts to make the jump from senior manager or director to vice president”.

EWN is hopefully the networking and support vehicle for all Executive Ghanaian Women in Ghana!

EWN\’s website is www.ewntree.com and there you will also find a membership application.

I am a woman
I am an executive
I inspire, empower and support.

Irene Gloria Addison

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