Fighting the Double Standard with a High-Visibility Cocktail Party

 

     One of the unspoken struggles that flummox many women’s leadership initiatives is a double standard in perception.

     As research reflects, when a woman executive keeps her head down, performs well and waits to be rewarded, she’s perceived as unambitious and lacking drive. If she’s aggressive and makes tough decisions, she may be viewed as a cold, calculating shrew.

     Most companies can’t mandate 50/50 representation among their upper ranks (as Norway did, for corporate boards) but Michelle Bosch, General Manager of Enterprise Holdings in the Washington DC area, decided she was going to do the next best thing; ensure that through training and providing necessary tools for success, the female managers in her operating group are “promotion-ready.” “The idea is that when a position opens up, there will be good competition for it from both men and women” explains Michelle. 

     She and Kris Stuber, vice president of human resources, along with several other upper level female executives at Enterprise, underscored the hidden excellence of its women managers with a unique cocktail party.

Michelle Bosch and Kris Stuber of Enterprise Holdings

Michelle Bosch and Kris Stuber of Enterprise Holdings

At one of the group’s big management meetings, they invited regional managers into a room plastered with large posters. Each poster featured a top-performing woman, with a full set of accomplishments and statistics itemized below.

     “Women don’t boast like men do. And if they do, it’s not typically perceived very well,” explains Michelle.  By creating the posters, awareness and recognition occurred naturally. 

     In the short term, the cocktail party reframed perceptions with concrete facts. Over the long term, Michelle and Kris have witnessed expanded growth and representation of women at their premier branch locations. Hats off to the duo for finding a creative, irresistible way to broadcast female talent.