We may not–yet–be able to address all the reasons there are not more women at the top of organizations, but we can address areas in which we have more control. We do have authority and agency over certain aspects of this current reality. So while we work toward systemic change, let’s also work on the…

EP #110

Episode 110: Why Aren’t There More Women at the Top

We may not–yet–be able to address all the reasons there are not more women at the top of organizations, but we can address areas in which we have more control. We do have authority and agency over certain aspects of this current reality. So while we work toward systemic change, let’s also work on the daily decisions we make and with whom we choose to surround ourselves.

As we examine this together, I want to encourage us all to be bold in exploring our own beliefs about ourselves. Where might we be unknowingly limiting ourselves? How might we be unintentionally not advancing our leadership skills? How might we be unwittingly diminishing our presence, even within our own companies? There is a lot to consider, so let’s dive deeply into it.

“You don’t owe anybody any version of yourself other than the one that’s real. And we change. All of us change.” – Kris Plachy

What You’ll Learn

  • One core piece that limits women
  • Supporting one another as women
  • Preventing our own ability
  • Hyper perfection and hyper control
  • Lacking support at home
  • Avoiding aspiration
  • There is no failure

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Welcome, so glad you’re here. Let’s tell some truths today that are interesting to observe. Why is it that there aren’t more women leading at the top? How about we talk about it? Let’s go.

Well, welcome. Welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad that you’re here. I’m Kris Plachy. If you haven’t tuned into Leadership Is Feminine before, I’m glad that you’re here now. And if you are a listener every week, hi. I’m glad you’re back.

Today I wanna talk to you about just some general observations that I’ve made about women and why there aren’t more women at the top. And I think also why there are so many women who even start their own businesses and then struggle to be at the top. So let’s just talk about all of it. This one might be a little confronting for some of you, I don’t know. If you are a long-term listener, you know well enough to know that I’m never trying to be intentionally that way, but sometimes I say things that might be a little triggering, so I’m just giving you that. But I do think it’s important that we talk about some truths.

So we know there’s not as many women as there are men at the top of organizations. That doesn’t need to be further explained. It’s very obvious. There’s a host of reasons why that has always been the case. As we explore the lot of the things that are going on now, there are some very real institutional, systemic reasons why that women are not at the top of organizations. And those permeate every organization across this planet.

So I’m not gonna get into systemic discrimination. All of those sort of known things that I think, I just wanna agree with those, that they exist, right? That there are unintentional reasons why women are not considered for roles.

But what I wanna talk more about today is where we have more control, where we have authority and agency over the decisions that we make, and the people that we surround ourselves with, and the beliefs that we choose to believe about ourselves that perpetuate that potential to not advance our leadership skill, our leadership presence, and even as far as the growth of our own companies that we found, right?

So we know that 1% of business owners get to over a million dollars in revenue. So if that’s where you are, first of all, let’s just give a yahoo. Like, this is a pretty big deal. You’re in a class all by yourself and that’s nothing to be a shrinking violet away from, right, that you should be very proud of that.

What I observe though, is that there’s a lot of women who still struggle to maintain their level of authority and responsibility over their organizations over time. And if you are an entrepreneur and you work within a company, I think a lot of what I’m gonna talk about today is equally relevant. The first thing I wanna talk to you about is something I’ve been talking to a lot of my clients about, which is just the truth about what women believe about support.

The majority of the women that I mentor and am a private advisor for, one of the core areas that we work on is support. In order to lead a big life, you have to have a support system that supports it, that enables that. But if we look at the traditional roles that we’ve all been surrounded by for thousands of years – not just a little while, thousands of years – we know that women have been the primary supporters, the nurturers, the ones who are responsible for thinking about everybody else and making sure everybody else is cared for. Whereas the men, and I’m over, I am generalizing, but I think I’m pretty accurate, have been raised to believe that they have to be providers, but not supporters. And there’s a difference.

So just think about how, you know, Thanksgiving, I talked about this before, right? Thanksgiving meals here in the States. What are the women doing? They’re in the kitchen, they’re making sure the tables are set, they’re making sure everything’s going on. And then where are the guys? They’re watching football. They’re playing football, and they’re not thinking about the fact that there’s gonna be this meal.

Now, that’s not always true. So please understand, like, my husband’s incredibly involved in preparing Thanksgiving and being all of that, but not everybody’s is, and I’m not saying they should be. I just want to observe that in most cases, men are raised to believe that other people will support them, and women are raised to believe that it’s their job to support other people.

So now, insert this very talented, very capable, very strong, very intellectually bright woman into a circumstance where she’s assumed a high level of leadership, authority, and responsibility, and also there’s more potential for it. But along the way, most of those women do not develop support systems to compliment the bigness of the life that they’re leading. In fact, what they do is they just keep all of the support that they’re providing to everybody else, in addition to growing this business, this team, this company. Because women are not raised to believe they need support.

So one of the things I’m ap to say to my clients who are leading very big lives and very big businesses is, let’s not take on one more thing unless you have already established what the support system will look like for you to make that happen. This is not about anybody else but you. What is the support that you need?

And so many women need significant deconstruction of the beliefs that they have about what they are entitled to, what they should be asking for, what they are able to ask for, what is okay to ask for? Because we’re so ingrained with the belief that we’re supposed to support everyone else. So that is one of the core pieces that I see limit women.

And I wanna say this from both perspectives,because that didn’t limit me. I took on the biggest job I ever had was when I had infant twins. How was I able to do that? I had an incredible partner in my husband. I had a family that supported me. We hired a nanny. I made decisions about what I wanted my life to look like, and I was okay with it. Do you know who wasn’t okay with it? Other women. And I think we have to tell the truth, y’all.

Now listen, I get it. But if I heard once, I heard 400 times. “Wow. How do you do all that? You leave your kids and go to work. You have babies. Are you still nursing? How do you do that? Do you miss them? That must be really hard for you. I would never be able to do that.” I know you know what I’m talking about.

So A: I had to work through that. I know a lot of you listening to this did too. I’ll never forget the chief of HR of the company that I worked for, the chief of hr, let’s just- human resources, right? This is the guy that is supposed to make sure that all the other people in the company aren’t doing exactly what I’m about to tell you he did. He and I met and he had twins who were in their twenties. I had twins at the time who were like, I don’t know, six. And we had met at an event and I had never talked to him. And we got to chatting and shared that we both had twins and he said, “Hey, stop by my office tomorrow. I wanna get to know you a little bit more.”

I was part of his larger organization at the time. So I met with him. His first question was, “How do you travel as much as you do with twins?”

I’m like, “Cuz I have a husband.”

And he was so perplexed and I felt so uncomfortable. He would never ask a guy that, ever. You know that’s true, that dynamic is real. But here’s the thing, y’all, the only way that changes is two ways. We decide we’re gonna live the life that we wanna live, regardless of all these judgment of other people. And B: as other women on the planet, could we just stop with the judgment of other women? Could we just stop? You meet a woman who’s the CEO of a successful business. Could we just say to her, “Get it girl!”

Tell me how you’ve built that support structure in place. I wanna know. I wanna learn from you. Not, “Oh, I could never do that”. Could we just agree? But sometimes that’s the most challenging critics in the world for us as women are other women. We struggle with beliefs about who we should be. We struggle with dealing with things that are uncomfortable.

We are nurturers. We care about people. We don’t bring structure into our organizations oftentimes soon enough that we create. And therefore, when we have to deal with difficult moments with people, we don’t know how to do that. These are some of the other ways that we are preventing our ability to ascend and grow to higher levels of leadership, and it’s nobody else’s responsibility other than our own.

This is where you have so much personal agency. Become amazing at moving through things that are difficult, when it comes to your organization and your team. We are people pleasers. We don’t want to disappoint other people. We don’t want other people to feel uncomfortable, so therefore, what we do is we take the responsibility of preventing their discomfort in the first place.

The problem is we’re also a little hyper controlling. Which means we don’t give people opportunities to fail as much as we should. We don’t allow people to do things a little differently because we believe it should be a certain way. Now, all of that hyper perfectionism and hyper control is coming from a fear of being a failure. It’s coming from a fear of feeling shame. So these are the elements that I just don’t think we talk about a lot.

We just sort of say women aren’t leading at the top of the organizations because people don’t let them. People don’t hire them. People don’t promote them. I think that’s true, but I also think there’s a lot of women who are incredibly competent and talented, but they still have some significant growth. And one of the reasons that they are unable to do that is because they don’t have good mentors and they don’t have good models. They don’t have a coach who teaches them how to handle these moments.

Now, this is the one that I think might be a little testy, but I must say it. We go back to all the ways that women and men have been designed on the planet and how we’ve all interacted with each other for so many, so many, so many, so many, so many eons. What I see quite frankly, very honestly and very frequently are successful women who do not have partners who support their success.

Now, they might in their words. They’re proud of them, they’re excited for them. They like the money they make, but the support does not move into the relationship at home. And I watch so many women who are incredibly strong in the world, come home to demanding, unsupportive, unhelpful life partners who trigger, and sometimes knowingly, their female partner’s sense of guilt, overwhelm, imposter syndrome, not doing enough.

And so that’s why we have women who get up at four and don’t go to bed till 11 because they’re trying to make everybody happy, but they are in a partnership with a life partner who’s perpetuating that. It’s one of the most challenging things I watch. I had a girlfriend ask me not long ago, she said, “If you didn’t coach women on leadership and all the things that you do, what would you work with?”

And I said, “I would help strong and successful women figure out if they should stay with their partner.” Because I think we choose partners at a time in our lives where we often don’t even know what our potential is. And then we watch, and we become these version of ourselves, this version of a woman with this incredible business, with this incredible prowess, with this incredible presence, with this incredible influence. But we have a partner who did not do the same work along the way. And they still wanna be married to the woman that you were when you were 22 or 25.

We are not her anymore, but you keep trying to stay small and appease that for the sake of the marriage, for the sake of the children, for the sake of the things. This is a touchy subject. I respect that. Let’s, we’re not even talking about incredibly strong women who are emotionally and physically and mentally abused. It’s real.

So when we talk about why aren’t there more women at the top, I think this is a part of it. I just don’t think we talk about it. Why would I aspire to more responsibility when I know it’s just gonna cause me more grief at home? And to that woman who is likely listening, I want you to hear me from love. I get it. I’ve worked with so many women like you, and I think the only way, over time, this changes for you is for you to find your voice and to find what it is you really want, what you most, and who want to be in the world.

You don’t owe anybody any version of yourself other than the one that’s real. And we change. All of us change. Some of us get luckier in this case than others. I feel very blessed. I married someone who is nothing but my cheerleader. If I wasn’t married to him and I was married to other men that I listen to, people I know are married to, I would not be where I am. I wouldn’t be able to do what I do without being in an equal partnership with my partner.

So women not being at the top of organizations, women not growing their businesses, yes, there’s very real bigger issues, but this podcast is just about the ones that I know you have authority over. You have authority over the way that you think about yourself, the way that you choose to believe. You are entitled to support, that you can live an empowered life, and make choices on your own, that you can do things that are difficult and you can move through those.

You can learn how you don’t have to control everything for fear of avoiding shame and failure and perfection. There’s just is, there’s no failure. There’s just stuff that doesn’t work. I had a client in town last week for one of my in-person days and I said that to her and it just stuck and she loved it. She’s like, “There is no failure. There’s just stuff that doesn’t work.” All right, try again.

So let’s keep in mind as we look at all the landscape of the world and we look at the potential, cuz there are so many women, and here’s what we know. The statistics are proving out that women-led businesses actually perform better. All of those intrinsic parts of who you are that you bring to work are such incredible assets. I just wanna invite you to notice where are those little dark spots that you know are preventing you from taking whatever that next step is.

Maybe it’s scaling, maybe it’s adding another location. Maybe it’s expanding, maybe it’s going through a merger. What is it? Be honest with yourself first. Nobody’s telling you’re doing it wrong. I’m just telling you what I see. I see in my clients and in my girlfriends and in myself, those of us who are successful, accomplished, 1%, we struggle with support. We struggle with boundaries. We struggle with feeling guilty. We struggle with the beliefs of what we should or shouldn’t be doing. We struggle with discomfort. And a lot of them struggle with having a partner who truly embraces what’s possible for them.

So I invite you to give it some thought. If you have any thoughts, you know where to go, go to hello@KrisPlachy.com and if you haven’t written a testimonial in a while, or you never have, I’d love for you to do one on this podcast.

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