It is not often a piece of research makes my jaw drop but I heard this nugget at a corporate women’s network a few weeks ago and it had me reeling and still I struggle to digest it…

Today the importance of personal connectivity in business cannot be under played. And moreover, your personal brand walks in the room before you do, as chances are the people you are about to meet have already googled you and checked out your entire social media footprint. Today it is not enough to simply network face to face we have to cover all angles in terms of our visibility. Managing our brand identity and our contacts is a core element of our job.

This is where the bombshell was dropped. Apparently research by leading workplace and inclusive leadership organisation Catalyst highlighted the difference between men and women in this area. Men spend on average 2/3 hours a day on this activity ie their visibility, connectivity and networking as opposed to women who on average spend 2/3 hours a month on the same stuff? OMG! seriously? No wonder we are falling short on being selected for senior level promotions, we are virtually INVISIBLE!

Now, is this our fault or another example of unconscious gender bias? Whilst most men can utilise their lunch hour, early morning time and after work time to network, be seen in the right places, and arrange hook ups with key people what are many women doing? In my experience lunch time is a valuable resource for most working women to run key errands like drop off/pick up dry cleaning; quick shop for dinner or buy gifts for the never ending list of functions from kids parties to weddings! Yes in an ideal world these tasks would be shared or handed over to the House-keeper and if you have that sorted well done, but for most professional working Mums early morning meetings, after work meetings and lunch time are already taken and until domestic chores and child care are shared I cannot see this changing anytime soon.

So what do we do to make the game a bit fairer? How about recognising that connectivity is a core element of the job and building this into job specs and workloads, as networking and social media activity is not simply about self advancement, it also relates to relationships with current and potential clients, influencers and industry leaders.

And ladies, we need to continue our journey to equality by recognising what we need to do to advance and delegating some of our home chores. As Sandberg says Lean In to the job, be present and make sure you are visible.

Maybe advancement is nothing more than being seen and being present – be interesting to see the impact at the top if women spent 3 hours a day on their visibility eh?


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