It is an undeniable truth that being a woman in corporate America is difficult. Between unfair stigmas, glass ceilings, and wage gaps it’s no surprise that for decades women in the business world feel the need to hide their femininity in the workplace. For some women joining the "boys club" can feel like a necessary evil of business. Recently I was speaking with a woman who has been extremely successful in the pharmaceutical industry over the past few decades. We spoke about women and fashion in business, and something she said has inspired me. She said, “For so long women were expected to dress masculinely. Back in the ’80s we wore squared off suites with pearls so that we wouldn't stand too much from our male counterparts, something I've never agreed with. Dressing femininely and accessorizing for work makes me feel powerful, confident, and I believe it has helped me become more successful. The confidence that I get from dressing up helps me stand out in my business.” We as women have so many incredible qualities that make us fantastic business leaders. So, why should we be made to feel inept when showcasing our femininity?
“Women should be sure of themselves because women have a lot of capacities. We can achieve so many different things that men cannot. I think women are stronger.”
Though women are constantly underestimated in business, Donatella’s words could not ring truer, even science agrees. When analyzing over 24,000 leaders from around the world one study found that in key areas of emotional intelligence female leaders statistically edged out their male counterparts. Emotional intelligence directly correlates with career success particularly the ability to “Apply Consequential Thinking” a concept that enables people to evaluate the pros and cons of a particular action or decision. On average female leaders scored 4.5% higher in this category as well as the ability to identify and understand feelings and to recognize patterns, all extremely important traits of leadership in business.
Another study shows that women are 86% more likely than men to consistently show emotional competency and, are 45% more likely to be consistently empathetic. This means that women make better mentors, inspirational leaders, conflict managers, and are more likely to achieve team goals. According to Daniel Goleman, Co-Director of the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence, “The data suggests a strong need for more women in the workforce to take on leadership roles”
Goleman isn't the only scientist to come to the conclusion that women in leadership roles equal better business. There are countless studies that prove this, some of which are talked about in this article published by CNBC. One study that stands out is The Peterson Institute for International Economics’ survey of 21,980 firms from 91 countries. The survey found that "A profitable firm at which 30 percent of leaders are women could expect to add more than 1 percentage point to its net margin compared with an otherwise similar firm with no female leaders” and that for the profitable firms in the sample a 1 percent point increase on a net profit margin of 6.4%, the average for their sample, represented a 15% boost in overall profitability for that respective organization.
So, the next time you feel the need to downplay or hide your femininity remember that in 2018 women only made up 4.8% of CEOs on the Fortune 500 list and we are still kicking ass in Corporate America. Women belong in the business world just as much, if not more than men. Celebrate your femininity, it is your strength. Dress to make yourself feel confident not, to hide or fit into a male-dominated industry. I believe in women in business, that is why I started Citrine Grey, to support women like me who are embracing their femininity and working towards break glass ceilings.