In order for women to advance in the workplace, strong female networks are critical. Networks are effective if they are attracting and retaining exceptional talent and connecting and advancing women in the industry. Unfortunately, Queen Bee Syndrome can weaken networks and can be the biggest hindrance to women climbing the ranks in the workplace.
Queen Bee Syndrome occurs when women bully, undermine, and or try to sabotage another’s career in order to make themselves appear better or superior. In order to create strong female networks, Queen Bee Syndrome must be addressed within organisations. More importantly, women must evaluate their own behaviour to ensure they are not becoming Queen Bees.
Going to Wellesley College, an all-women’s university, certainly influenced my mission to help advance women in the workplace. Wellesley is an environment that fosters a culture of women supporting each other and has been the strongest network I have ever experienced as a student and after graduation.
At Wellesley we understand that we all come from different backgrounds but we face similar challenges. One woman’s success inspires other women. After graduation, I learned quickly that unfortunately, the workplace can often be a place where women view one another as competition rather than allies. Although there are numerous female networks, Queen Bee Syndrome can block their objective of advancing women in the workplace.
The following 4 tips can help women to understand how to create strong networks for themselves, ensure they are not the victim of a Queen Bee or become a Queen Bee.
- Join Organizations that Support Women. Actively participate in company led and industry organisations that support women. Join a committee or volunteer at an event. Consider organising an event at your company. On your social media promote industry events that may be of interest to other women.
- Be a Connector. Women often do not recognise their power, our ability to make an impact in our work, our lives and in the lives of others. Connecting people is impactful. Regularly review your list of contacts to determine who you can connect within your network.
- Address Network Gaps. A strong network can put you in a “power position” by having the information that can provide career opportunities. Ensure your network includes individuals that can provide key information about industry trends and potential career opportunities.
Women should ask themselves 5 questions to determine if they are in a “power position”:
Do you know the market salary rate for your role?
Do you have someone at your job that will sponsor you for promotion?
Are you in regular contact with at least two recruiters in your industry that alert you about career opportunities?Do you have an “Advisory Board” that is a sounding board and offer advice on how to advance your career?
Google Yourself: Is your online profile an accurate and positive representation of yourself? Does your LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles best represent your personal brand?
Unfortunately, the answer to these questions is usually “No”. Women that have answered “Yes” to these five questions will find themselves in a position of power because they will have critical information and multiple options that will allow them to advance their careers.
- Engage Men. A strong network will include men and women that can positively influence your career. Men need to be engaged and part of the dialogue in order to make significant progress in advancing women in the workplace. Invite men to events.
Ensure you have male sponsors at your company and within your industry. Sponsors are key decision makers that will have an active role in promoting you at your company or hiring you for your next role.
Companies should become more aware of and address Queen Bee Syndrome. Many companies are making efforts to explore issues that can hinder diverse and inclusive workplaces such as unconscious bias. Queen Bee Syndrome is another issue that needs to be addressed if we are going to create strong female networks and improve the pipeline of effective female leaders.
About Cecilia Harvey
With over 20 years on Wall Street, and one of the small number of women in leadership within Financial Tech today, Cecilia is an advocate for not only women in FinTech, but also for women aspiring to leadership anywhere.Cecilia has written a career book for those just starting out, the Green Machine: A Career Guide for the Young Professional, and has spoken at numerous conferences, worldwide. She will chair sessions at Women of the Square Mile in February 2018. @ImCeciliaHarvey