Did you catch the article based on the results of a survey by KPMG LLP titled Will Women Take Big Risks?
Although disconcerted by aspects of the Risk, Resilience, Reward survey where 2,000 women were asked about their approach and behavior when it comes to taking risks at work, I was pleased that IndustryWeek published it on their website given that manufacturing companies continue to struggle with attracting women to the field.
Key callouts from the survey:
Below are five reasons why business leaders shouldn't ignore the cultivation of personal risktaking as a critical factor as they upscale their policies in support of more women taking informed, responsible risk in the workplace.
1. Risktaking lies between creativity and innovation
Survey data point: less than half [of the surveyed women] (43%) were open to taking big risks associated with career advancement
Risktaking provides the path to innovation. It lies smack dab in the middle between creativity (our brain power) and innovation (the best of our disruptive selves). Risktaking represents the actions we take in pursuing our path to innovation. There's no way getting around it. If we're not disciplined enough to focus on what we envision and not courageous enough to pursue that vision, we limit our ability for personal and professional growth.
Change Tip: As part of the company's professional development policies, business leaders could upgrade the performance reward structure for high-impact, strategic opportunities, ensuring that any change campaign and communication plan includes live workshops and virtual webinars that target female populations. And don't forget to update existing onboarding and training materials for new hires as well as current employees.
2. Risktaking builds trust
Survey data point: a larger number [of women] (69%) were open to taking small risks to further their careers
All trust begins with self-trust. When people trust their ability to raise the bar on their terms, they develop and strengthen their self-confidence. Even if the outcome of an endeavor doesn't meet expectations, risktaking builds resilience and perseverance while preparing professionals for pivots and possible setbacks. In the evolving workplaces of the future when colleagues are just as likely to be humans as much as smart robots, the ability to trust and collaborate in new ways will differentiate career professionals in business.
Change Tip: Support female professionals as they strengthen their risktaking muscles and trust quotient. Meet them where they are today by assessing where they are along the change curve (see below model from the Acuity Institute). The goal is to move them along the path from incremental risk to higher-impact, strategic opportunities.
3. Risktaking blame and shame holds people back
Survey data point: Race also has its influence with women of color willing to take risks at a higher rate (57%) versus white women ( 38%)
Establishing a level playing field for everyone is where a company's culture can really make a positive difference. There should be no question about what the playing field looks like for the company. What does informed, responsible risktaking look like? How is this behavior measured, tracked, and reported as part of an employee's performance criteria and professional development? What does reckless behavior look like? Was available data ignored or research not performed in a robust manner to match the level of risk? Did you or your team model irresponsible risk that resulted in setbacks for functional groups or negative impacts to vendors, partners or customers?
Consistently holding people accountable for areas where they have authority is smart business, but that doesn't mean shaming and blaming people when they miss the mark. Less than desirable outcomes should incorporate retraining, upskilling, coaching and mentoring, as required.
Change Tip: It's worth a reminder that diversity and a culture of inclusion could lead to the next innovative breakthrough that does change the world.
4. Risktaking gives people a voice
Survey data point: forty percent of the women said that the opportunity to make more money is a reason to take a risk, however, only 35% said they were confident about asking for a higher salary
Having a place at the table is critical for advancing women in the workplace, but unless their voices advance the conversation, then we're only talking about location and not real gender disruption at the highest levels.
We need ALL leaders on board to help us navigate the labyrinth of advanced technologies that include AI and deep learning, technology advances projected to dramatically alter societies, industries and institutions in less than a couple of decades. We need global business leaders, managers, and emerging leaders to step up and out of their comfort zones to help shape the future ethically and responsibly.
Change Tip: Stepping up to lead ongoing efforts in evolving AI for Good is a great way to do good while also differentiating yourself in the workplace and in the marketplace. It lends itself well to asking and receiving more money for investing in the future as a responsible risktaker and innovator.
5. Risktaking disrupts the spectrum of fear
Survey data point: women with less than five years of experience are more willing to take risks, (45%), compared to those with over 15 years experience (37%)
Innovation is as much about the fear of being left behind as it is about giving voice to driving needs: making a difference in the world, differentiating ourselves through pioneering thinking, and establishing a lasting legacy.
Fear does act as a motivating factor in certain circumstances, e.g., a startup fearful of running out of money takes dramatic steps to attract additional funding or decides to leverage their existing resources in new, better and innovative ways. But fear can also serve as a deterrent for someone who's considering whether to embrace one of the company's high-impact initiatives, programs, or projects.
The challenge in moving people along the spectrum from fear as motivator to one of inspired creators and innovators begins by realizing that one size does not fit all. You set people up to succeed by incorporating training, mentoring and coaching into a strategy that broadens the risktaking playing field for everyone.
Change Tip: Meeting people where they are in respect to their career and life cycles can make a big difference on how fast a change occurs and whether it sticks. In other words, is someone entering the professional workforce for the first time as a 20-year-old or do they consider themselves seasoned professionals heading towards the 40-year-old mark? Truly transformative change integrates both the career cycle and life stage into a larger career performance strategy.
Interested in learning more? Check out our upcoming Seeding Change course Risktaking for Life: Career Cycles & Life Stages.