What Is Womenomics?

Claire Shipman introduces you to Womenomics in the workplace.

May 31, 2009, 6:24 PM

June 1, 2009 — -- The first thing you should know about Womenomics is that it's not some feel-good, nutty crunchy rant about what companies "should" be doing for women. If it will make you feel better, we'll tell you to go do some yoga, but that's beside the point.

Click here to read the Womenomics blog and here to go to womenomics.com.

No, Womenomics is about power and making good business decisions. We deal in facts, not stereotypes, and some of those facts are surprising.

First, you should know women have huge power in the workplace and marketplace right now, power most of us don't even know about. Because why would the corporate world give away that leverage?

Companies with more senior female managers make more money. A 19-year Pepperdine University survey of Fortune 500 companies showed that those with the best record of promoting women outperformed the competition by anywhere from 41 to 116 percent. That's an eye-opener. And there are other similar studies from Catalyst, and the University of California, Davis.

Women's management style is suddenly seen as valuable, not soft. Our right-brain skills like inclusiveness, a focus on compromise, and aversion to risk are seen as necessary for a profitable business.

Nick Lehman pointed out that the buzz at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, this year, looking at the dearth of women at investment banks, was that a Lehman brothers with a few sisters on board might have contained the economic crisis.

And we do most of the buying. No kidding, you might be thinking. But it's no joke when women control 83 percent of consumer spending. We recently crossed the 50 percent line in terms of car-buying. We literally buy more cars than men do! And guess who car companies need to design vehicles we like?

Oh… and a talent shortage looms. The younger generations are smaller, and in the next few years the Employment Policy Foundation estimates there will be a 6 million person gap between college graduates and people needed to cover job growth. And that gap that will just keep getting bigger. Highly educated employees will be in huge demand. Guess which sex earns more college and advanced degrees?

Women's Power in the Workplace

We're getting a huge boost from our youngers, who have no desire to work the way they've seen us working. They don't want to sit in an office for 10 hours a day, and they figure they can crank stuff out when and where they want. Even younger men put a premium on work-life balance -- kids or no kids. Corporations are already retooling to accommodate.

All of that gives women enormous power in the workplace. It's often untapped, and largely unrecognized today, but it's power that will be impossible to ignore in the coming decade.

Brenda Barnes, CEO of SaraLee, who quit a powerful role at PepsiCo to spend more time with her children, only to come back 12 years later as a top dog, told us it's a new world out there.

"Companies need to recognize that this kind of flexibility offers employers the ability to manage and balance their own careers and lives, which in turn improves productivity and employee morale," she said.

Barnes and other executives maintain this new way of thinking and working is all the more valuable in a recession — companies need to get creative and offer flexible schedules, four-day work weeks, and extended vacations as a way to avoid layoffs, save costs, and still reward employees. Many are already doing that.

But Womenoimcs is more than a trend spotting treatise. Womenomics does more than marshal the evidence of a historic shift. It chronicles the growing revolution in a very personal way. It shows women how they can capitalize on all of this power, and all of this change, to redefine their own work lives, because this is what most working women are after: Time. Control.

Study after study shows that time is the new currency for women. Money is often secondary. Most women say they want more flexibility at the office and would literally trade money for a day off. Often they are afraid to admit it, but they have had enough of of the 60-hour work weeks, the day-care dash and the vacations that never get taken. But we don't want to quit. We want to work, but on our own terms and in ways that make it possible to find a life as well.

What Womenomics Does

Womenomics is about redefining success — building satisfying careers that don't require an all or nothing lifestyle. Sometimes that means turning down promotions and kicking down the corporate ladder.

This is an issue that now even has a champion in the White House. Michelle Obama admitted on the campaign trail that it's always a struggle, saying, "Constant guilt surrounds working women and mothers no matter what we do. " She's hoping to put a national spotlight on work-life balance, especially as it affects women who have very few economic choices.

We have candid stories from dozens of professional women who have made unusual career decisions. They are heavily engaged in the workplace, but have said some pretty big "Nos" in order to have balance. I even detail my own knee-knocking encounters on this subject — negotiations that have finally led to a good balance for all concerned.

Most of all, Womenomics is, we hope, an empowering and inspirational blueprint for how to get what you want. This is not another thesis about what women can't have, or that we can't have it all. Womenomics opens eyes to a "New All" -- a new way of looking at success and priorities and possibilities — given the seismic shifts going on on the workplace.

By the way — one last fact: when companies give women and employees freedom in an effort to keep them, or because they have to, they get not only loyalty, but higher productivity. Pioneers like Capitol One literally run their companies without any mandatory office time. They made the move for morale reasons but also found a huge uptick in productivity. Best Buy found productivity shot up 40 percent in some cases when it started focusing on results, not face-time -- a pretty nice business kicker.

Womenomics, remember, is all about the bottom line.

More Information:

Where to See Claire and Katty:

June 2:

ABC-TV "Good Morning America"

ABC-TV "The View"

PBS-TV "Charlie Rose"

Comedy Central "The Colbert Report"

Air America Radio Interview with Courtney Hazlett

June 3:

ABC-TV "Good Morning America"

Sirius XM Satellite Radio "Oprah & Friends"

June 4:

NPR "Diane Rehm Show"

June 5:

MSNBC-TV "Morning Joe"

June 6:

CNN "Your Money"

June 7:

ABC-TV "This Week with George Stephanopolous"

June 11:

C-SPAN "Close Up"

June 12:

CNN The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer

June 14:

NBC-TV "Chris Matthews Show"

June 19:

HBO "Real Time with Bill Maher"

July 7:

Sirius XM Satellite Radio "Oprah Radio with Jean Chatzsky"

In-Person Appearances:

New York:

June 3, 12 p.m.: 92nd St Y

June 9, 7 p/m/: Fairfield, Conn. WSHU Talk

June 10, 7 pm: Barnes & Noble, Broadway at 66th Street

Washington, D.C.

June 6, 6 p.m.: Washington D.C. Politics & Prose

June 11, 7:30 p.m.: Washington D.C. Borders/Tysons Corner

San Francisco, Calif.:

June 16, 6:30 p.m. at the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs

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