Customers and Employees Top Female CEO Priority Lists
By George Anderson
A new study by Babson College’s Center for Women’s Leadership says that, when it comes to business priorities, female CEOs put customers and employees at the top of their list.
According to the survey of female executives running companies in Massachusetts, 97 percent cited customer satisfaction at the top of their lists followed by employee satisfaction
at 92 percent.
Lower down on the priorities of the women responding to the survey were more traditional business concerns, such as profitability (64 percent said it was very important or important),
sales growth (48 percent) and market share (41 percent).
“Typically, what’s taught in many business schools, including ours, is you think about profitability first, and that shareholders come first,” said Nan Langowitz, director of
Babson’s Center for Women’s Leadership and an associate professor of management at the school.
“It’s not that they don’t care about those things,” she said, “but it’s … that putting the people first will get them to those business objectives.”
While the Babson research seems to suggest that women take a kinder, gentler route to running companies, female executives are no less driven to excel than their male counterparts.
When asked why they sought a leadership role or chose to start a company, more than three out of four (77 percent) said they were motivated by the need for a challenge and personal
“A common myth is that the reason women get into business careers is because they have to, either out of economic necessity or they have no choices,” said Prof. Langowitz. “What
you’re seeing in this data is that women have pursued these business leadership opportunities for their own personal satisfaction and because they are seeking a challenge,” she
Many of the CEOs participating in the study shared in their refusal to be deterred by the so-called glass ceiling that limits opportunities for advancement by women in business.
“I don’t want to say that the glass ceiling is not a real issue. I think it is for many women,” she said. “But for these particular women who sought the top leadership jobs,
either they just don’t let that affect them or they have never perceived that to be their particular issue.”
Moderator’s Comment: In your experience, do women executives take a different approach to management and leadership than their male counterparts? In
what ways is this demonstrated? –
George Anderson – Moderator