Advancing Female Talent: Organization-Wide Opportunities For Change

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Working for over two decades to advance female talent, I’ve repeatedly seen the mistaken tendency to oversimplify by looking for one answer, one magic bullet. In reality, the solutions that result in more women at the highest corporate levels are complex, multifaceted and organization-wide.

Where Do The Opportunities Lie?

The sustainable advancement of female talent requires casting a wide net. Companies need to attract and retain talented women at all levels, identify organizational artifacts that pose unintended barriers, create opportunities for women to define their career goals and execute strategies to achieve them, and combat cultures that provide a safe haven for gender bias.

In a recent issue of The WUN, our newsletter to alumnae of WOMEN Unlimited programs, we emphasized the importance of a “collective group of leaders, women and men … who are defining a better future for women.”

To help build that future, a Catalyst report offers advice on how to address hidden biases. Applicable to all organizational levels, the suggestions include becoming more self-aware, knowing your blind spots and assessing what lies behind the views you hold and the feelings you have.

Additionally, in order to stop lagging behind their male counterparts, women themselves must know when and how to go for what they want. Relationships are key to that advancement because they inform women about themselves and their organizations. Yet, a recent McKinsey Women in the Workplace report showed that women are 54% less likely than men to have a sponsor, an advocate in the organization who helps them become visible to those who matter. Also, WOMEN Unlimited surveys of mid-career women entering our programs show that less than 50% have mentoring relationships to help them navigate the corporation, so they are appealing candidates for those sponsorships.

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