Sometimes referred to as the “The Missing 33%™” of the career success equation for women, weak or absent financial skills can cause women to miss career opportunities.
“Women often receive positive reinforcement for strong communication skills, team building and personal attributes but don’t get a clear message about the importance of building their financial acumen,” explains Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.
Although men and women enter roles with profit and loss (P&L) responsibility at similar levels early in their careers, the presence of women in P&L roles by the VP or SVP levels drops off significantly, according to the Women in the Workplace Study by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org. That can thwart career progress because P&L responsibility is often a prerequisite for senior leadership.
You can close that skill gap at our 2019 Conference, LIMITLESS: Drive Solutions, Accelerate Growth where a key focus will be The Bottom Line: How Profit & Loss Experience Drives Advancement at All Levels. Content will be targeted to each Leadership Cohort: Directors, Managers and Executives.
“Managers still tend to expect women to be good with people and men to be good with strategy and business,” Colantuono adds. “But, at a certain level, you cannot be a viable leadership candidate without being known for your business, strategic and financial acumen.”
She points to her research showing the vast majority of Fortune 500 women CEOs globally have P&L experience or have been responsible for a strategic business function such as mergers and acquisitions. Colantuono will lead the Director Leadership Cohort in exploring financial concepts.
Learning to Speak Finance
General Manager of Acumen Learning, Kenny Snarr, finds that many leaders, women and men, have gaps in their financial knowledge. He works with organizations to help them understand their own financial statements and how their leaders impact them.
“Finance is the language of business so you need to understand it, but there are a lot of ways to describe the same financial concepts so it can be a difficult language to follow,” Snarr explains. He will lead the financial session for the Manager Cohort and his colleague, Kevin Cope, will lead the Executive Cohort.
“Participants in our sessions will learn the drivers that influence business strategy and levers to activate to impact P&L performance,” Snarr said. “They will also learn to articulate financial principles clearly and quantify the value they create by using financial statements and principles.”
Colantuono shares similar goals for her director-level sessions. “Attendees will leave with a crystal-clear understanding of why business, strategic and financial acumen matter,” she explains. “They will gain a clear model for understanding the business and interpreting financial reporting and action steps to deepen their developing skills. They will also learn how to mentor their protegees to develop these skills.”
Those who lack financial acumen, or who possess the skills but don’t know how to demonstrate them, are often frustrated by slow career progress, according to Colantuono. Individuals who master business, strategic and financial acumen — and can demonstrate it — tend to rise more quickly.