Dean Sally Blount – the only female leader of a top ten business school – recently wrote an article for Kellogg Insight that talks about how we keep high-potential women in the leadership pipeline. She points to specific pivot points during a woman’s career in which there’s a lot more at stake than just leaning in, as Sheryl Sandberg would have us do.
Blount says, “We need to find ways to coach high-potential women as they prepare for and navigate the Mid-career Marathon years.” She also highlighted the importance of “effective mentorship and sponsorship.”
At East Tenth Group, we believe both coaching and mentoring are crucial to the development of strong, bold leaders. But there must also be a system in place to ensure that women are being cultivated from the start for these roles.
We recommend these actions:
- Create parity. If we wait for the natural course of events to bring about gender equality, it is never going to happen. To develop more women leaders, businesses must have policies in place that require women to be hired and promoted at an equal pace to men, even if it means widening the criteria by which they choose candidates.
- Provide development and mentorship programs. From the moment you hire a woman to your company, see her as a potential CEO, and provide the tools, the pathways, and the support that allows her to pursue that goal.
- Quit requiring board members to be CEOs. It’s a self-perpetuating problem, requiring board members to be CEOs. It simply keeps women from having full participation. More women on boards isn’t just good for women; it’s good for the bottom line of the company.
Recently, a global senior business leader was talking about how he thinks through the process of managing his team. Top of mind is in managing based on functions and achieving business outcomes – without considering gender. Today, that is no longer good enough. We must keep gender and diversity inclusion in mind, because the end-clients – no matter who they are – come to us with a wide range of needs and demands.
To deliver the best outcomes as business leaders, it is our imperative to deliver on this varied thinking at the beginning of the recruitment process by creating parity, providing development opportunities and mentors, and by placing women on our boards – whether or not they’ve achieved CEO status.
Creating opportunities for women isn’t difficult, but it does take more than talk. What are you waiting for?