Getting Women into Leadership

Getting Women into Leadership

Numerous studies have shown that women make up about half of the workforce, including in professional roles. However, women aren’t promoted at the same rates, meaning only a fraction to upper-level management and executive officers are women. The Balance Careers talked to Global Chief Executive Officer Susan Lucas-Conwell of Great Place to work about how she had reached that point and what managers can do to ensure women are getting a chance at higher-up positions.

Workplace Challenges
Both women and men struggle to balance work life with home life, parenting in an increasingly busy world and keeping up with changes in the workplace, though statistically women still take on the bigger parenting role, even when both partners work full time, and women are more likely to prioritize work-life balance than men. Women also still face a wage gap, earning on average 73 cents for every dollar a man makes, and they are more likely to face sexual harassment at work. There also are fewer female mentors and advocates, simply because fewer women are at the top.

What Women Should Do
The first thing Lucas-Conwell tells women in leadership is to be who they are as leaders. Some women feel pressured to lead as men, even if that is not their innate leadership style. Don’t, she says. Women leaders should highlight their leadership styles, be it creative and collaborative or direct. This allows other women to see their traits reflected in their leaders and imagine a path to the top. Women at all levels should hone their skills, take opportunities for professional development and make their voices heard. Women in leadership and organizations should ensure women are able to speak up and that they’re listened to and respected.

What Companies Should Do

Companies who seek gender equity in leadership and boards of directors pay significant attention, and put significant resources toward hiring, retaining and developing women leaders. This means using a toolbox as diverse as a good benefits package that includes things like maternity leave, onsite or subsidized child care and good health care to professional development opportunities like mentoring and networking programs. These companies have been proactive in implementing policies to ensure equal rights of women in the workplace and to correct past imbalance.

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