The workplace has changed and more women are taking the top jobs. According to a 2019 report on Fortune 500 companies, there was a record-high number of 33 women CEOs. Globally, women in senior management roles are at an all-time high of 29% — but there's still plenty of space at the corporate table for women. Especially as the Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the job outlook for executives to expand until 2029.
That said, women—especially women of color—still face challenges that make corporate success harder to achieve. Here are some ways women can break boundaries and get equal opportunities:
Continue your education
If you want to fast-track your career you need to always be learning and showing your superiors that you are proactive in this regard. Yet taking time off work to further educate yourself could halt your progress. Thankfully there are two ways to learn while working: in-company learning courses and online degrees/programs. If your company offers education and training programs, make sure that you sign up and take them. This will show your employers that you are willing to learn more about the company.
If your company doesn’t offer this and you want to increase your business knowledge in order to fast-track your career you can consider an online course. Through the years, more women are looking to further their studies, so much so that there has been a 40% increase in women taking business courses. As an online business administration degree is 100% coursework and with a flexible schedule, students can easily complete it while still being employed. An online degree also allows women to choose an area of emphasis suited to their skills, which means they can tailor their studies to suit their career, and in turn fast-track their progress up the corporate ladder.
Find a female mentor
Speaking of like-minded professionals, you can gain so much insight and experience from a mentor. Many business analysts say that a mentor gives employees a significant advantage. This is especially true for women whose career path usually requires more nuanced teachings from fellow females. Effective mentors for women will teach you the ins and outs of work both culturally and analytically. Many companies have mentorship programs, but if yours does not then go ahead and approach a senior team member you admire and ask them yourself. Remember this isn’t brown-nosing. Keep it formal but sincere. In the future, you can be a mentor yourself as you promote diversity and equality.
Promote yourself with networking
A study by LinkedIn shows that 85% of jobs are filled via networking. However, women routinely network less than men. Begin prioritizing networking as part of your job. The ability to network strategically will help you break through glass ceilings. When you network, you want to highlight your skills and become top-of-mind for colleagues—but not in a pompous way. Do this in your workplace by having genuine conversations with peers from all departments. Don’t be cold and transactional but instead respond with personal insight. For example, don’t just talk about numbers—share that time you too were swamped with data and somehow discovered a better way to process it. In the work-from-home era, join online forums and networking sites. Be an active voice on these platforms and don’t hesitate to refer people. This puts you in a good light and positions you as a reliable resource.
Do things before they’re asked
In a corporate setting, being professional isn’t enough. You have to display exemplary proactivity. According to Oxford University’s Säid Business School, female CEOs said they didn’t wait to be asked, rather they exercised a sort of business telepathy. They overcommunicated and completed work before it was even a topic of discussion. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should jump the gun and seem overeager. Rather, you can prove that you acutely understand the business’ needs. For instance, try to start a weekly update email between you and your superiors where you outline all the movements you’ve made and why you did so.
Bank experience at a smaller company
Unfortunately, even if a woman is a prime candidate for a senior role, they tend to get overlooked in a big selection pool. Rather than trying to subvert this limitation, transcend it by working for a smaller company first. This advice may seem a bit unorthodox, but there's nothing wrong with padding your resume for a bigger role at a bigger company. Besides, an expert from Bloomberg pointed out that smaller companies have fewer people competing for fewer C-suite positions so your resume will have a better chance of being fairly considered. In a smaller organization, your chances of promotion are also higher. Once you earn these promotions, stay in the role for another year to add weight to your resume for future transfers.
If there was still any doubt about female leaders, an article by Harvard Business Reviews says that from 2019 until now, women leaders were rated higher than their male counterparts. In fact, a new analysis shows that if men and women participated equally in business, the global GDP would rise by $5 trillion. With the right strategies, like those mentioned above, we can expect to see women leaders rise and empower a more inclusive corporate arena.
Article was written by Jessica Romer