Raina Brands is a leading researcher on social networks, gender bias and leadership in the workplace. An Assistant Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the London Business School, her ground-breaking work examines how social networks help or hinder women’s careers and reputations.
Her work has been published in leading academic journals such as The Journal Of Organizational Behavior, Organization Science, and the Best Paper Proceedings of the Academy of Management. She has also been featured in mainstream media such as the Financial Times and New York Times. Prior to her role at London Business School, Raina was on the faculty of the Judge Business School at the University Of Cambridge.
Drawing on her pioneering research, Raina shows how unconscious biases and behavioural habits impact on women in leadership roles. For example, her works show that unconscious gender bias plays a huge role in whether we think a leader is charismatic and transformational. In organisations with hierarchical “star” structures, men are perceived as being more successful; whereas in flatter “cohesive” networks, women are seen as more successful – regardless of their actual abilities.
Another example of her research, recently reported in the Harvard Business Review, shows that women are less likely to apply for executive roles if they’ve been rejected before. She doesn’t just draw attention to these biases and behaviours; she also provides practical steps for moving beyond them so as to improve diversity and productivity.