Women are qualified and ready to lead in the workplace, however, there’s a staggering lack of women in corporate leadership positions around the world. But it’s not enough to talk about the problem.
What steps should employers take to increase the number of women leaders? How can aspiring female corporate executives get ahead in the workplace? We asked human resources executive Joan G. Wilmer for some actionable advice on increasing female representation in the C-suite.
Wilmer is a human resources executive and entrepreneur responsible for guiding the cultural transformation spanning multiple divisions and functions within the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. Wilmer led Caesars Entertainment’s new casino construction development in Baltimore, the largest and most successful strategic recruitment effort in a continuously evolving employment market, which resulted in over 40,000 applicants and over 2,000 hires.
She created Citigroup’s Employment of Choice strategy, to bridge the talent gap post the ending of apartheid in 13 South African countries. And she’s responsible for multiple leadership development programs, designed to grow future C-suite executives with a specific focus on women and minorities—across the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
Corporate Blueprint for Women in Leadership
Start training women at an early age – Too often we find leadership development programs and talent management agendas that are centered around mid- to senior-level career individuals, which can lead to smaller talent pools of applicants. Early cultivation of business acumen and professional experiences help women to “join the race” a lot sooner and empower them to build powerful résumés.
Increase boardroom representation – Not only will women have greater access to role models and mentors in that coveted space, they also will be encouraged to pursue more executive positions. This facilitates the necessary cultural changes in the environment to support these advancements.
Promote workplace sponsorship – It’s not enough for an organization to give complex roles and assignments to women. Workplace sponsorship should be driven by the decision makers who represent the C-suite “table” and could be male or female.
Secure a Career Team – I tell every woman leader I mentor that she should secure a “Career Team” at the beginning stages of her C-suite development. This team should include a mentor, a sponsor, and a champion. A mentor is someone who trains you and gives you the tools to build upon your work ethic. A sponsor is someone who can vouch for your work ethic. A champion is someone who can aid you in getting noticed for your work ethic.