Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

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Want More Money? You Need More Women.

Over the last few months, we’ve seen amazing headlines about how female leadership makes companies more profitable, from the New York Times, to the Wall Street Journal, to Quartz, to Forbes, to the Harvard Business Review.

Study: Firms with More Women in the C-Suite Are More Profitable

This research provides evidence of better financial outcomes for doing the right thing: putting more women in C-Level jobs. More money and doing the right thing? That’s an amazing combination. If you’re like me, you want to go and do something about this right now! So how can we take this information and make it a reality in our companies, our careers, and our lives? There are 3 key things we can do right now:

  • Sponsor women
  • Recruit women
  • Educate women

Sponsor Women

Are you already in the C-Suite and want to add diversity to your organization? One of the best ways to grow the diverse talent you already have inside your organization is to sponsor them. What exactly is a sponsor and how is it different from being a mentor? Sponsors vs. Mentors: What’s the Difference? defined the difference as:

Mentors act as a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested; they expect very little in return. Sponsors, in contrast, are much more vested in their protégés, offering guidance and critical feedback because they believe in them.

I have been privileged in my career to have three sponsors, each at different companies, and each at different levels of management. Each one of them helped me reach the next level of my career; without them it would have been much harder and taken longer to achieve my goals. They advocated for me to their superiors, they gave me feedback that was critical my growth as a person and professional, and they advocated for me when I wasn’t there. I worked hard to live up to their expectations. They were going the extra mile for me, so I wanted to do the same for them. Kerrie Peraino, global head of talent at American Express says it well.

“Trust is at the heart of this relationship. When I put my faith in up-and-coming talent and become their sponsor, I need to know I can totally depend on them — because they are, after all, walking around with my brand on.

Are you stalled in your career and want to get to the next level? Is there anyone in your company you could see as being your sponsor? If so get to know that person. See how you can help them achieve their goals. If you deliver for them, they will start to trust you and start to recommend you for projects, promotions, and other important work. Be sure you discuss your career goals with them, so they can do their best to help you reach them.

Recruit Women

Of course, before we can sponsor women, we need them to be in our organization and available to sponsor. We need to a better job of recruiting women into leadership roles.

Are you a recruiting agency trying to fill a leadership position for a client? When you are sourcing potential candidates are you going out of your way to try and find diverse candidates? You should!

The latest data, drawn from over two million companies analyzed by IMF researchers in one of the biggest longitudinal studies of its kind, proves conclusively that companies with one woman in a senior executive role have 8–13 basis points (3–8% margin) higher return on investment than companies with all-male executive suites.

You want to offer your client the best candidates. If we know that companies with women in the senior leadership make more profits, why wouldn’t you want to try and add them to the candidate pool you suggest to your clients?

Now that you are ready to recruit women for these roles, your next question is probably “How do I find these amazing women?”

First off make sure your job description entices women to apply for the role. Catalyst has done some amazing research on how to write job descriptions so they appeal to both men and women. I highly recommend reading the following article to find out more.

Can You Spot the Gender Bias in This Job Description?

I recently wrote an article about how tech companies can change their gender ratio by giving them practical tips to recruit and hire more women. Many of the suggestions in that article also apply when trying to recruit and hire women for leadership roles such as hosting events for women in leadership, attending women focused leadership conferences, and connecting with the women in leadership groups at your local universities or colleges.

How to Change the Tech Gender Ratio

Educate Women

I’m familiar with the common challenges of recruiting women. One of the toughest is finding them. Supply and demand are tough issues to navigate across the talent recruitment spectrum in many ways, but especially when looking to hire women. Having qualified women in the job market starts with getting more women educated for leadership roles. In this way, advocating for women in leadership is similar to the workaround women in technology.

In May, I met Hamid Noori who is the Director of Lazaridis Executive Masters in Technology Management at the Wilfrid Laurier University. We were discussing the one-year Executive Masters in Technology Management program that will be returning this to Laurier this fall. He mentioned that so far not one woman has applied to the program. That, despite there being scholarships offered specifically to help entice them to join the program. I was shocked.

Programs like these can be a fantastic way for anyone, and especially women, to propel themselves to the c-suite. Hamid wanted to know how he could help attract more women into the program. He feels that the program experience is richer when the students have diverse backgrounds and he sees the value in increasing the number of women who achieve a qualification like this one.

We need to encourage more women to join this program, and others such as the Wharton MBA for Executives in San Francisco and Philadelphia, The Columbia Executive MBA Program in New York, or the Executive MBA at London Business School. Many of the programs offer scholarships to help reduce financial cost as a barrier, especially for underrepresented groups.

Why are there so few women signing up for these programs? I don’t know specifically why other women aren’t signing up, but I do know why I am choosing not to join the program this year.

I am their target demographic. I work in the tech industry in a leadership role at the director level. My career could benefit greatly by taking such a program. At this time, I have decided against it. Between work, my young daughter, and Code Like A Girl it would be very difficult to find the time to attend the course, never mind get the homework done. To join the program something would have to give.

When my daughter is older and needs less of my time, I will likely reconsider such a commitment. A further incentive would be my organization agreeing to pay for a portion of the cost, and giving me extra time in my work week to complete some of the coursework.

If you are a senior leader in your organization trying to grow your c-suite, consider training a talented woman in your company. She already knows your business, and with added knowledge could help you take it to the next level. You could support her by paying for a significant portion of her program and allowing company time to be used to attend class and do a portion of the homework that comes with it. In the long run, you will get more out of her, both in her increased talent and knowledge as well as the trust and loyalty you have built by supporting her through supporting her professional development.

No matter your role, take some time to consider what you could do to increase the number of women in leadership in your organization!

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