We’ve heard time and again about the lack of diversity in leadership among organizations, specifically when it comes to the gap in female leadership. Women represent just 26.5% of executive and senior officials and managers, 11% of top earners, and 4.8% of CEOs in S&P 500 companies.
However, there are fewer discussions around how individuals can support or help women advance at work. Why is this important? There is plenty of evidence to show positive outcomes for women who have support — even more specifically, support from female leadership:
When women work with a higher percentage of women, they experience lower levels of gender discrimination and harassment.
When women have female supervisors, they report receiving more family and organizational support than when they have male supervisors.
When more women are in management positions, the gender gender pay gap is smaller.
Women who have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay.
Here are some ideas to build a strong network for women in the workplace:
Start (or join) a group for women at work. Networking groups open conversations to specific issues that arise in your organization and provide the opportunity to connect with other women in the workplace. There are some popular national organizations like Lean In Circles with local or regional chapters that are worth looking into.
Women are less likely to have mentors who advocate for and promote them — this type of sponsorship is eventually what creates opportunities. Look for women who have the potential to rise. Share personal experiences of how you were able to work your way up and coach other women on how to follow their own career paths.
You can advocate for women by making sure that their ideas are heard. If a woman is interrupted while sharing ideas, interject and say you’d like to hear her finish.
You might also like: 7 Reasons to Hire Women Leaders
Did you know women are often given less credit for successful outcomes and blamed more for failure? Look for opportunities to celebrate women’s accomplishments and point out when women are being blamed unfairly for mistakes.
Women tend to underestimate their own performance and are more likely to attribute failures to lack of ability. Look for opportunities to lift women’s confidence and encourage them.
Employing these strategies helps women move their careers in the right direction and creates a culture of empowerment to bridge the gap for women in the workplace.