Women who maintain a close circle of female contacts are more likely to be successful, a new report shows.
The Harvard Business Review found women who had a close inner circle of female contacts landed leadership positions that were a whopping 2.5 times higher in authority and pay than those of their female peers who didn’t.
Well, HBR said it had a lot to do with womens’ group chat.
“Although we could not review the content of email messages, we believe that this close inner circle of women likely provides critical private information on job opportunities and challenges,” the report said.
Some of that information could be whether a firm has equal advancement opportunities for men and women, or maybe even if an interviewer might ask about your plans to start a family.
But it also depends on what kind of inner circle those women have.
The report found the best inner circles for women were those in which the women were closely connected to each other, but had minimal contacts in common.
So, if your contacts don’t overlap, it means you can benefit from each others’ contacts too.
Is it the same for men?
The HBR found that the gender composition of men’s networks didn’t have any effect on their job placement.
But that’s not surprising, given men don’t need the kind of gendered information that women need to navigate male-dominated professions.
I don’t have a network. What can I do?
If you don’t think you have that inner circle of female contacts, HBR said you just need to take a strategic approach to networking to acquire it.
This means seeking quality over quantity, and you can do that by identifying people who are connected to multiple networks.
You also need to learn to embrace things out of the ordinary: “The more you associate with similar-minded or experienced people, the less likely you will be to diversify your network and inner circle”.
Getting too comfortable and closed with your circle can lead to it feeling socially secure, but HBR said it’s probably not going to help you in your career.
If you don’t know where to start, you can ask your employer to start a womens’ group that involves a good cross-section of the business, and meet up with them every month to discuss key insights or opportunities.