Women in Corporate Sales Roles and Diversity in Leadership

Update from Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

There are certain challenges that women face in sales. There are many various concerns from women in sales all around the world.

The major problem seems to be the idea that men have a better opportunity to communicate with clients socially. The problem with this is work/life balance; Men can go to the bar after work with clients or for a game of golf, while most women have to go home to tend to their families. Women often feel like companies are “boys clubs” that make it quite difficult to advance to next level roles.

One of the most important ongoing challenge for most companies looking to diversify their leadership is getting past the “unconscious bias”. It’s quite common now that we see most high-performing companies moving beyond the times when discrimination was acceptable. We are seeing more and more that hiring and promotion is based on business performance. However, there is still the “invisible” challenge of male leaders who continue to hire in their own circles.

Successful companies are recently discovering that getting mreo women into sales leadership roles is very good for business and critical for creating a path for them to reach higher executive ranks. Although 62% of women in large corporations are in staff jobs, many of these women provide assistance services but are not directly involved in the generation of revenue, thus weakening their chances of landing top level jobs in senior management. Only 3% of CEO’s in Fortune 500 companies are led by women.

Lori Cornmesser, Corporate Sales

Strategies to support and grow that 3 percent include:

  • Eradicating unconscious bias.
  • Encouragement of external networks.
  • Client engagement is not just about golf.

Possibly, the core of this issue emanates from a place of insecurity. A common occurrence is the “imposter syndrome” which women feel that they are not as qualified as others (men) to be in higher positions. Truthfully, the imposter syndrome feeling is natural for everybody. It is a bump in the road that every one goes through and the key is to create positive results from this feeling of being “over your skis”. The real problem is a lack of confidence and working to improve personal confidence is the most important factor in sales.

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We Need More Women in Tech Roles

Update from Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

Lori CornmesserScholars and policy makers have stated that women have been underrepresented in the important fields of study such as science, technology, engineering, and math, also known as STEM fields. Scholars are trying to pinpoint the various reasons for this gender gap in STEM fields and they are also looking for ways to increase diversity and lessen the gap within STEM fields.

Experts say it could be from a lack of female interest, societal encouragement, biological or structural explanations, or social-psychological explanations.

Women make up 25-40% of the total workforce of most tech companies, however only half actually reform core tech functions. On June 25th, Facebook made its gender diversity numbers public for the first time. According to this, Facebook said that women make up 31% of its workforce. Google has also stated a 30% female workforce out of nearly 50,000 employees.

A non-profit called Sanbergs Lean In was launched in March last year that aims to help and encourage women to stay active within their careers – even as they start families.

Google is also making an effort to support and encourage women to pursue computer science degrees by donating more than $40 million to organizations with aims of recruiting women into science-related roles.

It is no surprise to anyone that a science career track is something that has been in demand for the past few decades, especially with the exponential growth of dot com and tech bubble companies. Historically women are less involved in engineering careers than men. This is the time to change this and to create environments for women to excel in leadership roles while performing in technical roles. As the industry changes, we need to be prepared to keep up.

There are many organizations and networks with the idea of advancing the female workforce, those who have exponential success in mind, especially for the rising tech industry. It is important to stay on top of rising industries and have technologically educated women trained for managerial and leadership roles for the future.

There are a many of factors that may have an effect on the low representation of women in STEM careers. Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is one of the first woman appointed as Director of Policy Planning for the United States Department of State, has recently stated a few ideas and strategies to improve the corporate and political environment. Slaughter aims to support women in fulfilling to the many roles and responsibilities that they undertake.The academic environment for women may prove to be beneficial by implementing some of the ideas she has come up with to help women exceed the gender gap, all while maintaining a work-life balance.


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4 Myths About Women And Corporate Leadership

Lori Cornmesser’s Latest Blog Post

Lori Cornmesser

Women in the Workforce

Much is made about the lack of women in leadership positions in corporate world. Many have argued that women simply do not aspire to these positions or do things that inhibits their potential to grow. Fortune recently published a list that debunks these myths and others. Read a sampling below.

Raising children hurts career growth.

There is the perception in the business community that women in management positions are hindered from reaching the upper echelons by the raising of children. However, there is no statistical evidence that shows a significant difference in the number of promotions received by women with children and women without children. Still, the majority of promotions given go to men.

Women Lack Confidence

Because women understand the unique challenges that face them in the business world, they are are often more grounded than their male colleagues. This knowledge of their situation is often wrongly interpreted of being a lack of confidence. Research has shown that after being encouraged by a superior, there was no difference between the number men and women who were will to make a career jump.

Women do not aspire to leadership roles

Research shows that men and women both want to have positive working relationships and to do something intrinsically interesting. With these being the two primary goals of both genders in the workplace, it seems disingenuous to assert that men want to take positions of leadership and women do not. Yet still, research in the UK shows that men are 4.5 times more like than their female counterparts.

Women give up their careers before reaching the top

This myth has no backing in research whatsoever. There is not any statistical evidence to back up the claim that women are leaving their careers earlier than men. What has been shown is that women a level or two down from the executive level are two times less likely than their male counterparts to receive promotion.

Read more myths about women in leadership roles at Fortune.

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Julie Smolyansky: CEO Against All Odds

Update from Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

Lori Cornmesser

Julie Smolyansky

Forbes recently spoke with Julie Smolyansky, the CEO of Lifeway, about being a woman on top of a business, and the challenges still facing women who want to pursue leadership roles. Smolyansky took over the business when her father, who started the company in 1986, abruptly died of a heart attack at the age of 55 years old. At 27, Julie had to step up and take her father’s place and there were many who doubted her ability, both for you relative in experience and for her gender.

“The day that he died, my dad’s best friend said, ‘oh, sell your stock—there’s no way this girl can run a company,” Smolyansky recalls. This criticism was emblematic of stockholder response to her taking the reigns, with many selling off their stock. Today, Lifeway stocks are up 785% from the day she took over, proving once and for all that ideas and the ability to lead are what matters in business, not gender.

Smolyansky believes that what happened to her when she came in as CEO is what is still happening in the culture today to women in leadership positions. She points to Matt Lauer’s interview with Mary Barra, CEO of GM, in which he asked about doing her job affecting her ability to be a good mother. “No one ever asks a man whether they can run a company and be a father,” says Smolyansky. For a reporter to ask a women in power a question like that underscores the attitudes that still exist concerning women in power today, Smolyansky believes.

She believes that there is much the school systems need to instill leadership skills in young people, especially young women. However, she thinks that there is much that girls can do to get themselves ready for the leadership challenges of tomorrow by taking on everyday organizational roles. Something as simple as organizing a school dance can give a young person a glimpse into what it takes to be a leader. Also, Smolyansky emphasis learning to speak in public.

“People are terrified of it and I think that’s one of the things that keep people from leading,” Smolyansky says.

Read the whole article at Forbes.

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Tips For Women Rejoining the Workforce

Update from Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

Lori CornmesserJump starting a career after a gap of employment can be a difficult challenge. With roughly 40% of all women taking time off from working full time to care for their families, knowing how to pick up where you left off is crucial. A recent article on WTVR.com outlined some advice for women who are looking to reintroduce themselves into the workforce from Carol Fishman Cohen. Cohen is cofounder of iRelaunch, a firm that has been helping women get back to work since 2006.

1. What do you want to do?

Often after a time away from work, a person’s interests can change. A woman returning to work would do well to take time beforehand to determine where her interests lie. If an a particular field interests you that differs from your previous professional experience, Cohen suggests consulting your college alumni office who often offer career assessments to past graduates.

2. Reconnect.

If you are returning to the workplace, seek out people from your past. Do not be concerned about people not wanting to get back in touch. Networking is so important and chances are that you’re old acquaintances and co-workers would love to reconnect.

3. Research employers on social media.

Most companies these days have a substantial online presence and there is a plethora of free information out there for the woman looking to reinvigorate her career. Research companies on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other outlets. Also, let employers know that you used social media to seek them out to let them know you are savvy in those quarters.

4. Get up to speed.

Depending on your field, some re-engagement with nuts and bolts may be in order. Refresher courses or reading up on the latest techniques and technologies may be in order to make sure that your skills are up to date.

5. Propose a trial run.

Some employers may be hesitant to hire a person with such a long gap in employment. Cohen suggests that women in this position propose a trial run or “internship-like deal” so that an employer can see you in action before offering a permanent position. The employer receives an obligation-free deal, and you get a back into the swing of things.

6. Propose an internship-like contract.

Some companies may be reluctant to hire you with a major gap in your resume. You can propose an internship-like deal, where you work on a specific project or for a pre-determined period of time. This way, an employee gets a “test run” with you without committing, and you get back in the game.

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Lori Cornmesser Named among the CRN 2014 Power 100

Lori Cornmesser’s Latest Blog Post

Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

Lori Cornmesser, Ixia Communications

CRN Magazine releases an annual list of Women in the Channel, as well as a list of the Power 100.  For the 2014 year, Lori Cornmesser’s hard work and dedication have paid off, and she was bestowed the honor of being named on both of these prestigious publicized lists.

The goal of the Women in the Channel list is to recognize and celebrate women who have capitalized on revolutionary ideas they have implemented within their field of work.  These women are hardworking, driven executives who have made a name for themselves in their career.  This year, 340 women were named on the Women of the Channel List.  Two of the women on this list were members of the Ixia Communications team, but only one was named among the Power 100 of the 2014 Women in the Channel honors: Lori Cornmesser.

Despite only having been with Ixi Communications for the past 6 months, Lori Cornmesser has exploded out of the gate, cultivating the Ixia partner network to grow to over 400 members.  Coming from 11 years working at Juniper Networks, and a total of 18 years worth of experience within the channel, Cornnmesser is a seasoned  veteran with a competitive and innovative edge.  Her perseverance and ability to turn her unique ideas into a reality that ultimately better the company is part of what has earned her a place on this prestigious list of channel executives.

As the Vice President of Global Channel Sales, Lori Cornmesser leads a team in heading the overall sales of the channel, as well as developing and strengthening key relations between Ixia and its partners.  In her success in creating new partner relations and fostering old ones, she has thus greatly contributed to Ixia’s overall goal of asserting its channel brand as,”the one to beat in the market.” She has put together an impressive team who is solely dedicated to fostering and improving relations with partners, as well as focused on implementing new strategies of technology and the use of such.  The tremendous success Lori Cornmesser has seen in this endeavor, and in such a short time, has rightfully earned her a place on the list of the 2014 Power 100: The Most Influential Women in the Channel.

To read the full story and press release on Cornmesser’s place on this list, check out this page.

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Gender Bias In The Workplace Lives On

Update from Lori Cornmesser Ruiz

Lori Cornmesser

Women in the Workforce

We may laugh at the overt and backward retrosexism on display in shows like Mad Men, but how far have we really come as a society in giving women their due in the workplace? According, to a recent article in Fast Company, not nearly enough. Part of the problem seems that we are so subtle in our workplace sexism that we may not know that it is there. The article points to two primary areas where sexism still reigns and points the evidence to back it up.

Descriptive Bias

Descriptive bias is where a person, when faced with a lack of information of what someone is actually like, will fill in the blanks with descriptions from popular or culturally embedded stereotypes. In the case of women, words like ‘caring’ or ‘nurturing’ might fall into that category. These descriptors might have a positive connotation is some contexts, but evidence shows that is works against a woman when she seeks a position traditionally held by a man. The article cites a study where test participants were to hire a candidate by their performance of a math skill which men and women performed identically. Men still were hired twice as often as women due to the perception that women are bad at math.

Prescriptive bias

Prescriptive bias serves as the other side of discrimination’s coin. Here, women are perceived as uncaring or cold when they perform the functions of a position normally held by men. Again, sources cited in the article point to a surfeit of evidence that indicates that when women move beyond their ‘prescribed’ roles as nurturers and caretakers, they are perceived negatively. Evidence shows this works the other way, as well. Men who seek out female dominated professionals are also looked down upon, though with women that perception is also usually coupled with a pay cut.

The article also points to our willingness to deny that discrimination in the workplace remains a problem, which allows the problem to continue. There are methods that institutions can implement that do curb the effects of these biases in the workplace.

To read more, check out the original article and links at Fast Company.

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Ways Women are Hindering their Own Progress in the Workplace

Lori Cornmesser’s Latest Blog Post

Lori Cornmesser

Women in the Workplace

While women have come a long way in the workforce in terms of equality with men, there is undoubtedly still a gender gap that prevents men and women from being on equal playing fields in the office.  According to an article detailing a new book by two well-known female journalists, the true issue behind this gender gap in the workplace is lack of confidence, rather than lack of competence.

Katty Kay, anchor for BBC World News America and Claire Shipman, of ABC News co-authored the book, “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance.”

According to Kay, “In the classroom, we are superstars, and then we get into the real world and something changes,” she says of females entering the work force.  She then continues, “The rules change.  And women don’t play so well. You have to have a certain amount of confidence, and I think that’s the bit of the equation perhaps that women are missing.”

It was during their research for a different book, “Womenomics,” which was published in 2009, that the issue of the lack of female self-assurance in the workplace became apparent to the duo.  After talking to numerous women who were holding impressive careers at the time, Kay and Shipman were surprised to find that these women felt that they didn’t deserve the jobs they had earned, and that they felt like, “an imposter,” or like a, “fraud.”  These sentiments pushed them to consider the notion further- was this just what women said in conversation, to be humble, or was it something beyond that?  Did they actually feel this way and was there backing evidence to their sentiments?

Through some digging, it became clear that there was data to back up what these women were feeling.  It became apparent that women were holding themselves back when it came to more stressful work-related situations, such as competing for promotions or asking for higher pay.  Research showed that women would apply to promotional opportunities that they were 100% qualified for, whereas men who have roughly 60% of the required skills for a position would apply for the same opening.

This among many other findings are extremely telling of the gender gaps between men and women in the workplace.  They also found a great deal about the fear of failure holding women back in the workplace.  Evidently, there is a lot that needs to be done in order to bridge this gender gap and boost women’s confidence in the office. To learn more about the findings of this book and areas in which women are holding themselves back in terms of their jobs, check out the article mentioned above.

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Maya Angelou, celebrated US poet and author, dies aged 86
Angelou, who was also prominent in the civil rights movement, died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Full story here
Maya Angelou in 2008. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP


Maya Angelou, celebrated US poet and author, dies aged 86

Angelou, who was also prominent in the civil rights movement, died at home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Full story here

Maya Angelou in 2008. Photograph: Gerald Herbert/AP

(Source: theguardian.com)


Maya Angelou, 1928-2014. Read our obit here.
Photo: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times


Maya Angelou, 1928-2014. Read our obit here.

Photo: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times