Strategy

Getting ahead by going to bed

Many women say sleeping with a male superior is still a sure way get promoted.

Decades after New York magazine founder Clay Felker helped Gloria Steinem and other Second Wave feminists launch Ms. magazine, many women apparently still seek a man’s help to achieve their career goals. And when it comes to climbing the corporate ladder, many of today’s ambitious females are willing to climb into bed to get the job done.

Talented or not, says economist Sylvia Ann Hewlett, a gender-gap expert and president of New York’s Centre for Work-Life Policy, mid-level female executives typically “fail to find career traction unless sponsored by a powerful senior executive” who “more often than not, is male and married.” And since sponsoring a female colleague’s attempt to break the glass ceiling takes time and energy, sex frequently “enters the picture” as an incentive to take on a prot?g?.

According to Hewlett’s Harvard Business Review blog, a soon-to-be-released CWLP study found 34% of executive women surveyed know a female colleague who has had an affair with a higher-ranking male, while 15% admit doing it themselves. These liaisons often backfire with “disastrous effect on morale and productivity.” Nevertheless, when a female worker sleeps with a corporate superior, data collected by Hewlett’s non-profit think-tank indicates a career boost results 37% of the time.