Women in Leadership

Women in Corporate America – Have We Made Progress?

Kerrie Halmi asked:

March is National Women’s Month. Unfortunately, when you look at the overall statistics, things are not improving. In the last large-scale census done by Catalyst, most numbers either went down (such as the % of women corporate officers) or held stagnant (% of women on board of directors). This is not good! However, if I look at it on a smaller scale and see all the amazing women clients that I have worked with, I see a lot of progress and success. I choose to look at the positive and hopefully the micro will become the macro. Some of my own stats…The graduates of the first 9 month Professional Women’s Dream Team class (a leadership development class for women) set goals at the beginning of those 9 months?95% of them achieved their goals. Of those who wanted to get promoted, 100% did!

Individual success stories from my female clients include the following:

One client was feeling very stagnant in her current role and wanted to play a bigger role in her organization. We developed a plan in her coaching session as to how she could get a promotion. Our coaching included role-playing talking about her accomplishments and coming up with a strategy as to whom she needed to network with to let them know her achievements. It also included helping her gain the confidence to go for jobs she would not have formerly pursued. She ended up getting a double-promotion and loves what she is doing!

In doing a networking assessment, one woman realized that while she was a good networker, she needed to follow more of the networking tips. She did and attributes much of her promotion to that.

Another woman was very skilled at what she was doing, but was not able to get senior management’s approval for her promotion. Through our coaching, she realized how she was projecting herself to others. The way she communicated, both in what she said and in how she carried herself signified a lack of confidence, and therefore a lack of credibility to senior management. She became aware of those things, learned to correct them, and gained the credibility she deserved…and got the promotion!

Finally, one client had been told by her manager that she was doing all the right things in her job, but some people in the organization didn’t have the confidence in her that was needed for her to be promoted. During our coaching sessions, we set a strategy which included gathering more specific feedback, figuring out the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) for those individuals and how she could prove to those individuals that she had it in her to be promoted. After implementing her strategy…she got promoted!

When you are looking at women’s progress in Corporate America, it’s easy to get discouraged…however; I look at the individual successes and choose to be optimistic. Here are some other things you can do…whether you are a woman or a man:

1. Acknowledge and highlight the successes of the women in your organization.

2. Reach out and find a woman to mentor.

3. Understand some of the obstacles that hold women back (for example, not networking enough, communicating in a way that decreases their credibility, lacking the confidence to try for promotions, etc.)

Hopefully, the next statistics will be more positive! With the women I’ve met continuing to succeed in the workplace, they will be!

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