This post is written by Flora Mendoza, a Coro New York Fellow.
I work in the philanthropy department of a Fortune 500 company. I recently attended a conference for CSR (corporate social responsibility) professionals who work at other major for-profit firms; there was not a single male in a room of nearly 40 white women. Imagine my contrasting experience in the IT department of an elite private club, where I was the only woman on an entire floor of predominantly South Asian men. In both instances, I was an ethnic minority; and with the exception of the HR, communications and marketing divisions, men filled most of the core positions.
In corporate America, these imbalances are known yet accepted. Women are still seen as ‘creatives’ and ‘do-gooders’ with soft skills, even if they possess the hard skills to be the analysts in the company. To put it simply, the biggest barrier for women in the workplace is that they are just not taken seriously. Men should be challenged to develop new and valuable skill sets in HR, Communications & Marketing and Philanthropy departments, and the same goes for women in positions outside of those spheres.
Not only is having a diverse gender perspective beneficial when it comes to forging new partnerships and business initiatives while relationship building with clientele, but possessing both soft and hard skills will make each employee more valuable. Roles and skill sets should not be seen as mutually exclusive entities, but combined from the top down in corporate America so as to redefine America’s workplace culture. Only then can the scale be tipped in a significant way that would trickle down the company and to other industries, big and small.
View all our panelist responses on barriers to women at work, and tell us what you think the greatest challenge is by using #stateofwomen on Twitter.
Coro Fellows | Mar 30, 2011 7:02 PM
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