How to Promote Women Leaders
Susan Heathfield of About.com interviews our very own Susan Lucas-Conwell, CEO of Great Place to Work® on How to Promote Women in Leadership Positions and what organizations can do to help women utilize their strengths.
Susan speaks to the challenges still faced by women in the workplace, namely that women earn just 73% of what men earn in the same job, and that 400 of the largest companies in California still have less than 10% of their executive positions filled by women.
However, organizations can help promote women through focused efforts in their recruitment processes and employee retention and development programs. Setting up a taskforce to help implement and measure female-friendly programs helps a company to meet their goals, as well as ensures a discrimination-free environment. Mentoring initiatives and women’s networking groups also go a long way in supporting women’s success in the workplace.
But these programs and policies are hollow without a company culture that respects and values women backing them. Ultimately, Susan says, an organization that genuinely cares about their women employees will keep their women employees.
Aside from the unique perspective and insight that women bring to the board room, the added benefit of promoting women in the workplace is a higher return on investment:
“Fortune 500 companies with three or more women on the Board outperform other companies with 53% more returns on equities, 42% more return on sales and 66% more return invested capital.”
Women can help promote themselves to positions of leadership as well, and the first step is awareness. Susan discusses how women tend to have a more cooperative style when conducting business, which is an asset for women. Rather than attempting to conform to the culture of a male-dominated industry, women should draw on the unique strengths and perspectives that they bring to the workplace.
This is also something that requires constant effort, and women shouldn’t be afraid to put cues in place. These cues help to remind women to not conform, but to instead rely on their own emotional intelligence.
As a successful CEO with four daughters of her own, Susan emphasizes that if we want to encourage more girls to pursue careers in fields such as science, engineering and technology, then we need to expose them to these fields much earlier on. Additionally, we need to provide our children with more female leaders, mentors, and role models.
Visit About.com to read the full interview with Susan Lucas-Conwell, CEO of Great Place to Work, including her predictions for the future of women in leadership positions in the next five to ten years.
Kelli Marjolet is the Marketing Manager and occasional blogger for Great Place to Work®.