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How women on boards navigate the ‘warmth-competence’ line

What an interesting piece of research from Harvard Business Review. I think this relates particularly to the challenges senior HR leaders face – the ‘Warmth-Competence’ line. How to be human, in the function that represents the human inputs to the organisation, while displaying business competence, is a central dilemma.

Here’s a great excerpt that explores the difficult feedback that women can receive:

‘This backlash included being labelled as cold or incompetent, which lessened their ability to influence board decision-making processes. The root cause of these perceptions is that women are expected to demonstrate both stereotypical masculine traits, such as directness and competence, while also presenting feminine qualities, including warmth and empathy toward others.

Walking a fine line between expressing competence and warmth on corporate boards presented unique challenges for the women we interviewed.’

What are your thoughts?

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