Diamonds and The Old Boys’ Network
Have you ever wondered about diamonds? Why are they precious and rare? How do they form? And what about the diamond that has been in your family for generations? You may even wonder what in the world diamonds and The Old Boys’ Network have in common. When I was reading about diamonds, it reminded me of The Old Boys Network. Both seem to have been around for eons and each have bonding qualities. It does make a bit of sense, doesn’t it? Let’s first take a peek at diamonds.
Diamonds are complicated. I mean, over the top, engineering complicated because of its billion-year origin. According to The Smithsonian Magazine, “Diamonds are made of carbon, so they form as carbon atoms under a high temperature and pressure; they bond together to start growing crystals…[and]…are formed deep within the Earth about 100 miles or so below the surface in the upper mantle… There’s a lot of pressure, the weight of the overlying rock bearing down, so that combination of high temperature and high pressure is necessary to grow diamond crystals in the Earth.” (2006).
And how do these diamonds make it to the surface of the Earth? Volcanoes. Fascinating, isn’t it? If any of these interests you, I would recommend researching the topic. It is simply brilliant!
As carbon atoms bond to crystals, which in turn become diamonds, I couldn’t help but think of how young men bond with more experienced men through The Old Boy’s Network. I wondered whether it was still alive and well. And if it was, what impact has it had on the labor force?
Frankly, I was surprised to learn Zippia reported a whopping 31.5% of today’s CEOs are female, while 68.5% are men. In 2010 females were at 26.27%. Yet, it is all a bit misleading when Quantic reports that 8.9% of Fortune 500 companies are females. That paints a very different story! I remember from my Stat I & II courses that you can make numbers support whatever you want. However, I will leave that topic for a future post. Men know this network is alive and well, especially at the upper-tier management level. You, ladies, know what I’m talking about. It’s no wonder that diamond relics remind me of the “old boy’s network.”
Stevens Institute of Technology, a historically male engineering school, accepted its first female class in 1971, representing 3% of the student population. In 1982, the first sorority appeared at Stevens; today, there are five. In fall 2021, Stevens enrolled 30% females and 70% males in its programs. It was equally compelling to see Stevens’ enrollment numbers parallel almost identically to CEOs’ male / female ratios. Kudos to Stevens!
This brings me back to the “old boy’s network.” What, then, is at play here?
The infamous “they” said that 80% of all job hires came from networking decades ago. A quick browser search shows that the new number is between 70-85%. Quite striking to find out that even after all these years, networking is still a valuable tool in the job hunt. So, what is networking? Networking is a touch. It is a broad-based reaching catch-all phrase encompassing trying to connect with anyone who can hire you or knowing someone who can. It is very much like the Faberge shampoo commercial of 1986…”And they’ll tell two friends…And so on…And so on…And…” A modern-day LinkedIn.
When you speak to women who were trailblazers in their fields, they point to the importance of mentors. Mentors helped cultivate their knowledge into practical leadership skills, formal or informal. That is all well and good, yet, mentorship is not always available to everyone. The most successful businesses today recognize the importance of mentoring programs. In the “old boys’ network,” mentoring took place on golf courses, racquetball courts, or catching a drink at the local watering hole. Again, all well and good, yet are women being included? In my experience, not nearly enough. Nowadays, organizations such as Ten Thousand Coffees ask themselves how they can connect ten thousand leaders with ten thousand more leaders over ten thousand coffees. Leveling the playing field, at last! (hopefully).
According to a recent Forbes article regarding research done at Harvard, the old boys’ network is still very much intact. It seems that if a male is working under a male manager, he will be promoted much faster than if he is operating under a female manager. In fact, the study stated, “on average, a 14.6% higher salary.” If we take the average professional salary, per ZipRecruiter, of $50,882 and add a 14.6% increase in salary, the number is $58,310.77. What would you do with an additional $7,423.77?
Elite colleges, ya gotta love them! Danielle Li of MIT “found that women employees were 14% less likely to be promoted than their male colleagues,” despite their higher performance review scores. Again, the old boy’s network is alive and well. This research was reported in 2022. Not much has really changed. Back in 1999, I was passed over for a promotion. My direct report was male, and he promoted my male counterpart. We had equal credentials, including high-performance scores (mine were higher) and an equal amount of experience. I also had seniority. I left shortly after.
Ms. Li talks about how males are likelier to leave a job when they aren’t promoted. “Men who were passed over for a promotion were 35%-40% more likely to leave than females; whereas women were only 10% more likely.” Not surprising. In most cases, females have to work harder, work smarter, and juggle more responsibilities than their male counterparts. In a recent Deloitte post, women who work in organizations that promote gender equality have higher productivity, engagement, and loyalty levels.
It seems that men and women can equally do well or fail in a job. Finding the diamond in the rough should not be that difficult. Managers need to, once again, level the playing field, and provide promotional opportunities as part of a specific career plan with achievable goals for all employees. Each person brings unique knowledge, skills, and abilities to the table. Let’s do a better job creating more diamonds to sparkle throughout the workplace.
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