HCMx Radio: Unique Barriers that Women Leaders Encounter

It is mind-blowing that we still don’t have gender equality in the workplace.   Women have come a long way, but it is still not equal! In Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 Women in Leadership Study, only 12% of responding organizations said they see gender parity when it comes to C-level executive roles. shutterstock_247120585However, 97% of survey respondents say that the interest in having women advance to executive positions, including CEO, has remained the same or increased in the past few years. But that interest has not led to enough targeted development opportunities for women leaders.

Our findings also showed:

  • 81% of organizations do not offer a core women-in-leadership program focused on critical skills training.
  • 76% do not provide a mentoring program aimed exclusively at grooming women leaders.
  • Three times as many organizations have none or few women in C-level roles than have at least an equal number of men and women in those positions.

However dismal the data appears, we see some companies making a significant effort to help empower women and create opportunities that are beneficial to women and the organization to initiate better more productive working environments. In the latest edition of HCMx Radio, I interviewed Cyndi Sax, Senior Vice President of Consulting Services at Caliper, and Tom Schoenfelder, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Research and Development at Caliper, as they shared their behavioral research related to the differences between genders. Caliper’s study examined the relationship between personality and leadership, and specifically about the unique barriers that women may encounter as leaders.

Topics covered during the interviewed included:

  • Transformational vs. transactional leadership; traits that are found to be key to transformational leadership, and how study participants scored
  • If a woman does not possess these attributes, does that mean she cannot be a successful woman leader?
  • Natural vs. mindful compensating strategies – situational leadership
  • Potential challenges unique to women who occupy or aspire to leadership roles.
  • Organizational savvy, perceptions of performance, work-family balance.
  • The impact of stereotype threat and how women can overcome these barriers.


To listen to our interview, you can download the podcast anytime at the HCMx Radio site.


Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer, Brandon Hall Group


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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.