Women “Support the Cause” and Bring “Passion” to their Role in Non-Profits

Paragon Leadership recently conducted a poll of women leaders to discover their views regarding participation in non-profit boards and public service activity.  We were interested in learning the motivations for serving on a non-profit board and whether gender differences impacted these motivations.  Are there gender differences?  If your initial reaction to this question is “yes”, that is what we found when polling an audience of women leaders from both the profit and non-profit sector.

When asked the #1 reason women serve, or desire to serve on a Board or non-profit/public service, the overwhelming majority responded that women are driven to support the cause.  The results of the poll were as follows:

What is the #1 Reason Women Serve on Board or Non-Profit/Public Service?

71%   Support the Cause
19%   Networking
10%   Advance Career
0%    Learn New Skills

When asked the #1 reason men serve, or desire to serve on a Board or non-profit/public service, the women we polled believed men were most interested in networking and advancing their career.  Clearly the women in our poll thought men were more motivated for their own advancement than support of the non-profit cause.  The results of the poll were as follows:

What is the #1 Reason Men Serve on Board or Non-Profit/Public Service?

50%   Networking
45%   Advance Career
5%     Support the Cause
0%     Learn New Skills

Although the response above is from one group of women leaders, the results are aligned with what gender research tells about how men and women differ when it comes to motivation.   Management Research Group (MRG) did a study regarding how motivation was influenced by gender.*  They  found that women tend to be lower on “winning” and “controlling” than men.  Women were less motivated by being competitive and needing to be in charge than men.  Women were also higher on “expressing” and more compelled to share their “inner-self” without filters.  The research also found women to be higher on “giving” and “receiving”.  Women were less motivated by “maneuvering”.   Overall, women gain greater satisfaction with “affiliation”, being nurtured and being able to share their feelings and are less motivated in an atmosphere of competition.

*IDI Technical Consideration Reports, MRG
As heads of talent, business executives or other leaders who manage people, what does this all mean and why should you care?

In the leadership work that Paragon does with emerging talent, high potential and executive leaders, we find it is critical that managers understand differences in gender motivation and how it impacts the workforce.  This should be taken into account when:

  • Assessing “fit” of an individual to a role or company culture
  • Wanting to become or remain competitive by creating a highly engaging culture, one where employees are not only desiring to stay but are spreading the word to other possible recruits
  • Creating a diverse and inclusive culture to compete in the global economy
  • Attracting and retaining millennial associates, in a culture that is seen as socially responsible

Below are the other survey results our poll with women leaders showed:

In this poll question, we were interested in learning what might be holding women back from participating in non-profit or public service and found the answer divided between lack of right connection and no time.  The results of the poll were as follows:

What is the greatest obstacle standing in the way of women getting more involved with non-profit or public service?

50%   No Time
45%   Lack of Right Connection
5%     Little Interest
0%     Limited Knowledge

Finally we surveyed women on the most important attribute they feel women contribute to a board or non-profit organization.  The majority felt women brought passion to the position, followed closely by skills then influence.  The results of the poll were as follows:

What is the #1 attribute women can offer a Board, non-profit organization or the public sector?

45%    Passion
30%    Specific Skill
20%    Influence
5%      Fundraising Ability
0%      Networking Ability

What do you think about the findings?  We would love to hear any reaction you may have and how this plays out in your organization.

Want to learn more about Paragon Leadership and how we can help your emerging leaders?  Check us out at www.paragon-lead.com or email us at futureface@paragon-lead.com.


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