Women in Business Life or Only Successful Women in Business Life?

What do we expect from a working woman? To become successful at work? To become equally successful at home? Do you think that we expect a lot from women? Read on to discover the thoughts of Funda Sezgin, PWN Global's VP Engaging Men. 

These were the questions that my brain started to ponder whilst listening to a young, female lawyer during a panel discussion on gender-balanced leadership.

She asked one of the panelists, who happened to be one of the biggest industrialists in Turkey, how he felt about, and his experience of promoting women to higher level positions to ascertain a balanced number in management. She asked whether he felt that some women got positions just to fill a quota, and how he would react if these women become unsuccessful?

The panelist was a very supportive executive with regard to promoting a woman to high-level positions, and he answered that he had not yet experienced anything like this and did not hold the belief that women got positions that they did not deserve. 

The question was a very good one - not because it highlighted the potential risk of promoting a women purely to ensure a balanced management team, rather than the women in question meriting the position. It was a good question because it shows how much pressure, we, as women, unconsciously put on ourselves.

When a male executive steps up to a high-level position and is unsuccessful, we do not think that he should step out from business world as he occupied a position that he did not deserve.  More often it would simply be a case of 'That role didn't work out for him' or 'He chose not to continue in that role as it didn't suit him'.

It is a known fact that many of the Fortune 500 companies that existed in the 1960s are not present today.  We do not question their male executives who were unable to help them thrive. We never expected their male executives to step out of the business world for good. We even did not list or name them as “unsuccessful male leaders”.

We accepted the disappearance of these companies as the natural ebb and flow of a competitive corporate world. 

On the other hand, when a business is being run by a woman leader fails, we tend to point out her failure and expect her to step out from business altogether.

Whether successful or unsuccessful at work, women should be present in business life. This is the most important aspect for women in business: Some of them will be successful and some of them will fail and learn from their mistakes for their next business adventure.

It is also perfectly healthy, if a woman choses to have stable position.

We should not expect all of the women leaders in key positions to overachieve. Expecting all of the women leaders to become successful is not fair for them, just as we do not expect all of the male leaders to become successful.

When it comes to women leaders, there is a hidden appetite, as if all of them should overachieve their goals and leave the business arena if they can not make it. There are also some implicit expectations, if they can not make it, they should not occupy these positions.  Isn’t this unconscious expectation quite harsh?

Women’s presence in business life and gaining economic independence are crucial for a healthy society. Some women may become very successful, like some men, and some women will do just enough, like some men. Putting too much pressure on women in order to be successful and expecting continuous success from them may only result in more and more women quitting business life.   

About the Author:

Funda Sezgin, VP Engaging Men, PWN Global

Funda holds Executive MBA degree from Sabancı University in collaboration with MIT Sloan School of Management and Bachelor's degree from Bogazici University. She is a professional coach by Erickson Coaching International, an accredited school of ICF.

Funda has experience in Human Resources with specific focus on mergers & acquisitions, start-ups and reorganisations. 

Amongst the Regional HR roles, she worked for Diaverum Renal Services (Gambro) as Regional HR Director for Eastern Europe and the Middle East and for Trane Air-conditioning (Ingersoll Rand) as Regional HR Leader for East Mediterranean Region. Funda has led Human Resources in professional services, healthcare, retail and technology companies, including Tesco,Deloitte, Baxter Gambro and Watsons.

Talent and performance management of diversified cultures, creating company culture programs, developing HR strategies for new markets and diversity at work place are her focus areas. Funda continues diversity studies at PWN Global Federation Board as VP Engaging Men.



Date: January 2019

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more.

I accept cookies from this site