Risk Aversion—The Real Risk Part 2

Why take risks?  That’s a question many corporate women ask themselves, especially women who have attained a modicum of success. In their minds, risk taking can upset the apple cart and begin a downward spiral that undoes what they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Not so.  This is the reality:

When you ignore an opportunity you deem risky,
you have already made a risky decision.

Let’s be clear. No one is saying women should become the corporate equivalent of tightrope walkers without a net.  However, to summarily dismiss new job offers… to fail to volunteer for visible new projects…to sit back and wait to be noticed are just a few examples of how women build barriers to their own success.

There are so many upsides to taking smart risks. At the broadest level, according to Juli Ann Reynolds, president and CEO of the Tom Peters Company: “People who take more risks tend to learn more and experience more personal growth.”

Additionally, there are critical tangible benefits of intelligent risk taking:

  • You are more likely to get noticed by the people who matter
  • You demonstrate your ability to assess growth opportunities…in essence playing the game “just like the boys”
  • You position yourself as a leader who can make the tough decisions
  • You are more likely to have highly-visible, break-through successes
  • Your team will see you in a different light
  • Even if the risk doesn’t pan out, you will have gained a new level of self confidence and resilience by having tried

At WOMEN Unlimited, Inc. we understand that developing the skills of a successful risk taker is a difficult and arduous process, which women should not attempt alone. Helping our participants become “risk ready” is one of the key roles our mentors play. They help their mentees in a variety of ways including:

  • Sharing their own successes (and failures) as risk takers
  • Helping mentees assess which risks are worth taking
  • Providing a safe sounding board to tackle fears and behaviors that may be standing in the way of successful risk taking
  • Holding their mentees accountable to push past their fears and develop appropriate risk taking skills

To sum up the last two blogs: As a rule, women tend to be more risk averse at work than their male counterparts and this fear of risk can hold them back from reaching the highest levels of corporate governance. Helping talented women shed their risk aversion is part and parcel of our mission at WOMEN Unlimited. We provide tools, techniques and support for our participants to become intelligent risk takers, with mentors playing a crucial role in this process.

Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.