How do we get more women in the boardroom? – Working Voices

Susan Vinnicombe Director of International Centre for Women Leaders at Cranfield University said “Businesses were organisations designed by men, for men”. Female executives were overlooked for the mentoring that their male counterparts often received.

The Options

So there are 2 options for women, either they have to get good in organisations designed by men or set up their own businesses designed by women. Setting up our own business will not get women in FTSE boardrooms in the short-term though.

Some answers

To get to the top, we all have to be politically aware, influential and a good communicators. With flexible and home working in large corporates taking place, working hard while spending quality time with your family may be more increasingly achievable. I’m not saying achievable and easy – it’s challenging to find balance. It requires clarity, bravery and self awareness.

So how do we do it? Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook says we need to:

  1. sit at the table
  2. make your partner your partner
  3. don’t leave before you leave

I translate this as keep getting noticed, work as an equal with our partners at home and in the office and keep challenging yourself and pushing yourself for promotion.

Have a listen to her TED talk

One thing women need to improve is promoting themselves in the organisation. We need to:

  1. build allies to support projects in meetings
  2. improve our networking internally and externally
  3. speak in our language where possible – don’t be afraid to have a unique take on things.
  4. scope your role for success – make it a role for promotion
  5. get ambassadors blowing your trumpet – it’s not the work you do it’s how other people talk about it.
  6. help your line managers and team leaders be more successful – if you help them – they’re more likely to help you.

I believe building relationships is a natural female trait. However promoting ourselves doesn’t seem to be as common place in the corporate world.

Why? Could it be mothers have to work so hard when at work so they can pick up their kids on time. That means there is little time for self reflection and career planning. Any downtime is used to organise the home?

Your next steps

In reality the difference between building relationships and promoting our success is very little. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. We need to change our mental attitude to success, promotion and senior positions. It’s not just about being good at what you do, it’s about being political, strategic and visionary about how you do it. So what do you need to change to achieve your full potential?

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