Careers

6 traits make women irreplaceable in tomorrow’s work world, says ex-Wall Street titan Sallie Krawcheck

Photo courtesy Sallie Krawcheck

The future is female. So says ex-Wall Street titan Sallie Krawcheck.

In the workplaces of the future, Krawcheck argues that typically female character traits will put women at an advantage over their male counterparts.

"We are at a major turning point in the role of women at work," says Krawcheck, in her new book, "Own It: The Power of Women at Work." "The role of women is on the brink of change because the world of business is on the brink of change."

In her time on Wall Street, Krawcheck, now 52, served as CEO of Smith Barney, CEO of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and CFO of Citigroup.

"We are at a major turning point in the role of women at work." -Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest

Businesses that recognize and empower women will perform better than those those that don't. That, in turn, will motivate other businesses to put women in positions of power, she says.

"Companies that continue to do business 1980s-style will suffer the reverse effects as at an unprecedented rate women flee to work at companies that 'get it' or start our own," says Krawcheck.

That's what Krawcheck did. After spending the first three decades of her life working on Wall Street, Krawcheck co-founded and now runs Ellevest, a digital investment platform for women that aims to close the gender gap in investing.

According to Krawcheck, here are six traits women often have that set them up to be the professional leaders of tomorrow.

Women are more sensitive to risk

Risk-aversion can be a good thing. Krawcheck believes that the homogeneity of Wall Street is partially to blame for 2008's Great Recession.

When everyone looks alike, they act alike, and "this type of easy camaraderie can lead to overconfidence," she writes. Women, however, are more likely to add diversity to the conversation, and in a rapidly changing business environment, a dissenting, cautious perspective is healthy, she says.

Women are better at thinking about the big picture

In complicated situations, men can become overwhelmed. Women, however, are better able to process multiple factors at once and multi-task.

"Faced with complicated decisions, rather than trying to render them in black and white, women flourish in analyzing the shades of gray," says Krawcheck.

Women are more relationship-oriented

Women have a higher emotional intelligence than men, which means it is easier for them to build relationships. That makes women better collaborators and team players.

Also, in the future, robots will increasingly take over repetitive, low-skilled jobs. Professionals who use emotional intelligence, which women tend to excel at, will be at a much lower risk of being replaced by automation.

"Think about the types of jobs that no robot or algorithm could ever replace. Manager. Psychologist or social worker. Doctor or nurse. Drug counselor. Consultant. Elementary school teacher," says Krawcheck.

"They all rely on intrinsically human traits such as relationship building, empathy and compassion."

"Women flourish in analyzing the shades of gray." -Sallie Krawcheck, CEO of Ellevest

Women think about the long term

When Krawcheck worked on Wall Street, her male colleagues were often obsessed with delivering impressive results to shareholders for whatever quarter they were in. As a result, Krawcheck observed that those co-workers made decisions that led to short-term reward but long-term chaos.

Women think more long-term about their careers, too. "Men tend to work straight through their careers and peak at a somewhat earlier age, while women take more breaks and then can work longer," Krawcheck says.

Women are always learning

Women make good students. Since technology is driving an ever faster pace of change at the office, female workers' ability to enjoy and excel at acquiring new skills puts them at a distinct advantage.

"In this kind of environment, the mindset of lifelong learning will be an increasingly valuable attribute, because this is the mindset that enables us to adapt to change," Krawcheck says.

Women care about more than money

Once women are making enough to live comfortably, they seek professional fulfillment. Women tend to want to feel as though the work they are doing has purpose.

"A woman who is being paid fairly and treated well can bring a lot to the workplace," says Krawcheck. "But a woman who has those things and a sense that her work is valuable and [is] making a difference in the world? She's unstoppable."