Soccer and Tennis: Why Corporations Need Both

Throughout the year, we invite guest bloggers to share their from-the-field perspectives on inclusiveness and diversity. I’m so pleased to provide you with a number of outstanding and actionable insights from Tom Dybro.

–Rosina Racioppi,
President and CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.

TOM-DYBOR-SMALL-110x88by Tom Dybro
Senior Talent Development Consultant
Robert W. Baird

I am the father of two daughters, 12 and 14. As many of us parents know, siblings are often vastly different from each other. Both my daughters are athletic: one is on her school’s soccer team; the other plays tennis. Both enjoy winning and contributing to their school’s success. Just in very different ways.

It’s a constant reminder to me of how organizations, in looking to develop their high potential women, have to accommodate different styles and personalities if they want to enjoy the success that comes from diversity at the top.

As I work with organizations to develop their high potential women, I am in a great position to look at how we can do a better job of helping female talent reach their full potential. Here are a few observations I hope you’ll find helpful as you further your own inclusiveness initiatives.

Our solutions should be customized to women

Early career women are no longer given the time and space to grow their careers. We are not focusing enough on the “care and feeding” of these high-potential women. They are pressured to jump through hoops and are not consistently coached as they consider their various career paths. It’s not just the women’s loss, it’s the organization’s loss, as well.

Here’s just one example of supporting high potential talent early on: So we wouldn’t lose a promising early career woman, we re-located her over 1000 miles away to join her soon-to-be-husband. She has worked remotely for over two years and is as brilliant as ever. In the past, this kind of accommodation was restricted to more senior-level people. Not anymore.

We have to realistically address the work/life balance

All of us, but women especially, are caught in a vicious cycle that has robbed us of free time. Yes, things have changed a bit, but statistically women still carry a disproportionate amount of family responsibilities, coupled with the pressing requirements of job and career.

It is a disservice to the women themselves, their families and their organizations that women have little or no time for deepening their emotional intelligence, for growing their psychological agility and for reflecting on where they are and what they want. It’s no wonder that rates of reported depression and anxiety among women are at an all-time high. We have to help women step back, take a breath and recharge.

We need to mentor, but never be a crutch

I have been a mentor in a number of contexts including WOMEN Unlimited programs. I see 80% of my mentoring job as holding a mirror up to a woman’s individual choices long enough for her to look at her assumptions and reflect on how and where to make required changes.

Mirroring through mentoring can be an important part of the much-needed process where women question old habits and substitute best practices for ineffective behaviors. When done well, the mirroring approach empowers the mentee and fosters a sustainable relationship, without it becoming a crutch.

These approaches, individually, but especially in tandem, can throw much needed heat and light on inclusiveness initiatives.

P.S. An excellent read: I highly recommend Chained to the Desk: A Guidebook for Workaholics, their Partners and Children, and the Clinicians Who Treat Them by Bryan E. Robinson, Ph.D.