Sallie Krawcheck has heard it all.
The former CEO of Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch wealth management and CFO of Citigroup is now the cofounder and CEO of Ellevest, an investing platform specifically for women and author of the new book, “Own It: The Power of Women at Work.”
On Farnoosh Torabi’s So Money podcast, Krawcheck discussed the career advice commonly given to women. The major flaw with much of it, she said, is that women are encouraged to adopt more traditionally masculine traits in the workplace — to their detriment.
“The problem with that, Farnoosh, is the power of diversity in driving great business results is diversity, not asking us to act like men,” Krawcheck said. “Besides, which is exhausting; besides, which we bring great qualities to work that are becoming even more important as technology dramatically changes businesses.”
The research presented in the book, she said, shows women tend to bring the following qualities to the workplace:
- relationship focus
- looking at things “a little more long term”
- Making decisions “by taking in more information”
“We control $US5 trillion of investable assets,” she said. “We direct 80% of consumer spending. We’re more than half the workforce. Yet, somehow, we’ve accepted we have to act like men. We have to play their game.”
Krawcheck, who said she’s “managed a lot of people over the years,” said that one of the reasons women are encouraged to act like men in the workplace is because, “for us as managers, it’s just so much more comfortable to tell everybody to act the same. Everybody is a row, and then I can manage in one way.”
That approach might be more convenient for managers, but it’s not better for business overall. “Smart companies, smart managers manage everybody from where they are, where those people are,” Krawcheck said. “We’re able to guide, and coach, and pull the best from them as supposed to act like this. The issue with so much of the advice telling us to act like men, besides the fact it negates the power of diversity, is, Farnoosh, it’s exhausting. It’s exhausting to be a certain way.”
The “really depressing part,” she said, “is it can cause a backlash, that we women get criticised for being too feminine, but we’ve also been criticised for being too masculine. It drives women out of the workforce.”
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