Networking is not cheating, and everyone does it.
That is what Sallie Krawcheck, the CEO of Ellevate, wants young women trying to make it in male-dominated industries to understand.
In an interview on Bloomberg anchor Betty Liu's podcast, Krawcheck — a former CFO at Citigroup who also led Bank of America's wealth-management division — set out what it takes for a woman to break into the boys' club.
"Hard work matters. Results matter," she said. "Number two: Network, network, network, network.
"The board positions I've had, the advisory-board position I've had, have been through my network," Krawcheck said. "Your next business opportunity is much more likely to come from a loose connection than a close connection. It's someone who you see twice a year, you run into them at this work event, or you have this quick drink with him."
The importance of networking is particularly hard for young women to stomach, Krawcheck said.
'How do you think the guys are doing it?'
"For some reason, particularly young women, when I talk about this, say, 'Well, that's cheating. I want to do this on my own. I don't want to do it through my contacts and connections,'" she said. "I'm like, 'Well, how do you think the guys are doing it? I don't think there's anything wrong with using your connections.'"
Women are drastically underrepresented in finance and tech. According to the 2013 Catalyst census, just 17.6% of executive officers in finance and insurance industries were female.
Women make up only 23% of the tech workforce, according to an April study by the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology, a nonprofit aimed at recruiting women for the industry. And for women who abstain from using their connections to break into these industries, it's lost time.
"The research shows that it's only about their mid-30s as the guys get promoted ahead of them, they say, 'Oh, networking is important,'" Krawcheck said. "So, I'm a big fan … In fact, I've laid out before, buying the Ellevate Network was because of nine different connections."
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