Five Tips For Setting Women Up To Be The Next Workplace Leaders
The 2019 KPMG Women’s Leadership Study revealed that the majority of women want to become bigger risk-takers, but they sometimes lack confidence and believe they don’t have the credibility to take the leap into leadership.
While this has started to be explored on a deeper level, other issues have precipitated the need for more help, including the detrimental effect of Covid-19 on women in the workplace. Research indicates that more women were displaced from the workplace, causing their careers and leadership opportunities to stall.
This illustrates the importance of moving from the discussion stage to definitive action. Here are some plans to pursue to help increase female leadership across industries.
- Get a better understanding of women’s distinct career challenges.
While we may think we know what stands in the way for women on their way to leadership positions, we may not know to what extent or understand the internal and external struggles. This includes more complex challenges for women of color, who often face both racism and sexism.
Provide a forum and environment for more women to share their experiences without judgment. Executives need to be joining these forums and hearing from women directly about their experiences and how they believe it can change for the better.
- Expand and diversify the role of mentorship and sponsorship.
Mentorship is a major driver for moving up the career ladder. Like all employees, women need to have mentors who help them get to each rung with confidence and support. And we need to do better at helping them get a mentor.
The Working Mother Research Institute found that 48% of men report that they have received detailed information on career paths, while only 15% of women report the same. Additionally, 54% of men had a mentor or sponsor to have a career discussion with, compared to 39% of women surveyed. Also, the Center for Talent Innovation noted that the majority of executives with a protégé had one who matched their own race and gender.
The first step would be for executives to proactively look deeper within their organization for someone to mentor and shape for leadership who would be in contrast to their own gender and race. Identify potential talent within your organization who show qualities or signs of leadership potential through their existing performance. Provide them with assignments that help them stretch their skill set to grow into roles that add incremental leadership responsibility. You can also guide them along the way by providing tools and access to training or ongoing education to ensure success with these assignments.
- Take an intersectional approach to provide more opportunities.
The approach to diversity in the workplace and opening up leadership positions has to go deeper than just addressing women. An intersectional approach combines the effort to propel gender and race up the corporate ladder simultaneously rather than silo those tactics. That means looking at all mentorships, training and employee sponsorships with the need to create equal access for all employees.
- Celebrate inclusion in the company culture.
To ensure your company culture is structured around inclusion, it’s important to emphasize the type of behavior that is rewarded while also specifically explaining what should not be tolerated in terms of treatment of others in the company. In doing so, getting rid of the feeling of marginalization becomes more realistic because it’s clear how the company values and welcomes everyone.
This may involve providing allyship and bias training that discusses the difference between racist perspectives and actions and those that are anti-racist in nature. For example, attitudes where women often are assumed to be less tech-savvy or less engaged when they are anything but need to change. When those within the organization exude that inclusive culture, like including everyone in social gatherings, those actions have to be highlighted and praised to generate the positive reinforcement that can change overall behaviors.
- Focus on creating a more sustainable work environment.
In returning to the unique challenges of women, at my company, we have working mothers with numerous responsibilities alongside senior-level women. All women may also be struggling with juggling multiple life roles and the burnout that can come from working nonstop, whether it’s office hours or other responsibilities. The last thing they need is judgment or concern over their financial livelihoods. Therefore, companies need to explore how to design a sustainable work environment that accommodates these roles and struggles.
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