Awards season is upon us yet again, and not just in Hollywood. For some reason, last week was the unofficial “let’s recognize women” week.
And that means lists. Lists galore. More lists than you could shake a stick at: Fortune’s “Most Powerful Women.” Inc. Magazine’s “Female Founders 100.” Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Women of Influence.” American Banker’s “Most Powerful Women to Watch.”
I have real mixed emotions around these things. I love seeing women succeed. I love seeing them get recognized for their accomplishments.
But rankings like these, especially with so many at once, remind us that, as Gloria Steinem has noted: “The person with the power takes the noun — and the norm — while the less powerful requires an adjective.”
Men are CEOs. Women are “women CEOs.”
Men are doctors. Women are “women doctors.”
Men are lawyers. Women are “female lawyers.”
Put another way: Women are still rare enough, notable enough, unusual enough in positions of power that we need our own special magazine rankings. Sure, it’s not really a pink tax. But sometimes it can feel like it: Power …For Women™.
As for our neck of the business woods … despite some progress, 64% of C-suite executives in the financial services industry are still white men. 23% are white women. Some 9% of those positions are held by men of color — and just 4% by women of color.
Compare that to Ellevest, where 84% of our leadership team is women, 50% of our employees are people of color, 83% of our board members are women, and 100% of our financial advisors and planners are women.
Working in that kind of environment every day — where your best people also happen to be mostly women — can make something like a women-only power ranking feel … kind of redundant.
Maybe I’m asking too much. Like I said, I love to see women being recognized for their successes. But the reality is that while these lists aren’t really responsible for how unequal our world is — they probably don’t do a whole lot to fix it, either.
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