Monday, May 07, 2012

Metrics Are Hard

Women, Welch Clash at Forum (WSJ-sub req):

On Wednesday, Mr. Welch and his wife and writing partner, Suzy Welch, told a gathering of women executives from a range of industries that, in matters of career track, it is results and performance that chart the way. Programs promoting diversity, mentorships and affinity groups may or may not be good, but they are not how women get ahead. "Over deliver," Mr. Welch advised. "Performance is it!"

Angry murmurs ran through the crowd. The speakers asked: Were there any questions? "We're regaining our consciousness," one woman executive shot back.

Mr. Welch had walked into a spinning turbine fan blade.

"Of course women need to perform to advance," Alison Quirk, an executive vice president at the investment firm State Street Corp., said later. "But we can all do more to help people understand their unconscious biases."

"He showed no recognition that the culture shapes the performance metrics, and the culture is that of white men," another executive said.

Memo to the ladies: if you so desire, you can debate why there aren't more women CEOs and discuss what might be done to change the situation, but trying to claim it's because the metrics used to measure business performance are inherently sexist and racist ain't going to help move your cause forward. And neither is talking about how you're "regaining your consciousness" for that matter.