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Give and you shall receive: investing in the careers of women professionals

Kate Walsh (School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Susan S. Fleming (School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)
Cathy A. Enz (School of Hotel Administration, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States.)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 9 May 2016

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore what organizations can do to facilitate the retention and advancement of women professionals into top leadership positions. A social exchange framework is applied to examine ways organizations can signal support for and investment in the careers of women professionals, and ultimately the long-term work relationship.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper employed a qualitative methodology; specifically, semi-structured interviews with 20 women executives, in primarily the US hospitality industry, were conducted. The interviews were recorded, transcribed, and content analyzed.

Findings

Organizations are likely to strengthen the retention of their female professionals if they signal support through purposeful, long-term career development that provides a sightline to the top, and ultimately creates more female role models in senior-level positions. Organizations can also signal support through offering autonomy over how work is completed, and designing infrastructures of support to sustain professionals during mid-career stages. Findings are used to present a work-exchange model of career development.

Research limitations/implications

This research is an exploratory study that is limited in its scope and generalizability.

Practical implications

The proposed work-exchange model can be used to comprehensively structures initiatives that would signal organizational support to – and long-term investment in – female professionals and enable them to develop their career paths within their organizations.

Originality/value

Through offering a work-exchange model of career development, this paper identifies components of organizational support from a careers perspective, and highlights the factors that could potentially contribute to long-term growth and retention of women professionals.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was funded in part by Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group.

Citation

Walsh, K., Fleming, S.S. and Enz, C.A. (2016), "Give and you shall receive: investing in the careers of women professionals", Career Development International, Vol. 21 No. 2, pp. 193-211. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-04-2015-0059

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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