Advancing Leadership for Women

2018 has seen a lot of women’s movements with women rising up in media, politics and business. While there have been positive changes there are still few women in today’s top leadership roles. According to the Pew Report [1] women occupy less than 22% in the US Senate, US House or US Cabinet-level positions. As of May 2018, according to Fortune [2], only 24 women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, a decline of 25% from 2017. Women also only make up 20.2% of Fortune 500 board members.

Despite women making up less than 5.4% of the Fortune 500 CEOs, and regardless of the challenges of making it into the C-suite, women are still aiming for the top. Women in leadership are faced with a variety of challenges male colleagues may not experience. To help advance women in leadership, women can be mindful of these areas when practicing their leadership competencies.

  • Advocate for Workplace Equality. Women continued to be challenged with workplace equality. The basics of leadership ethics starts with equality. Implicit bias can affect both women and men. Take a leadership assessment of your workplace and hone the skills needed to address these deficiencies. Start by addressing any personal bias and look for opportunities to create more equality and equity at work.
  • Support Women’s Networks. With so few women in top leadership positions, it is important to support other women. Whether formally or informally, women need a platform to share their experiences and expertise. By building alliances and empowering each other, women can bring recognition to their unique value. Women’s networks can also provide opportunities to learn new leadership exercises and practice leadership games.
  • Communicate with Confidence. Women have a lot to contribute, so have confidence. Some women fear that confidence will be perceived negatively in business, thus try to be non-intimidating. Yet sharing your knowledge and perspective doesn’t mean you are bossy. Stand on your professional expertise and voice your ideas. Women have a place at the table and need to believe in themselves.
  • Own Your Worth. Some female leaders demure from their accomplishments for fear of being seen as boastful. Recognize your value and the many assets you bring to your organization. Negotiate in your best interest. Don’t undervalue yourself or your services. In business, some women may feel uncomfortable discussing money, whether in regard to salary or for products and services. Not advocating for your full worth only adds to the pay disparity and gender gap.