Last week, during International Women’s Day, many female workers opted to remain economically inactive to show the power they wield. This action was one way for women to call attention to basic inequalities in the workplace. Businesses could take a different strategy and follow the advice of thought leaders who are calling on them to take proactive steps to address workplace inequalities and propel more women into senior leadership positions.
The dean at the Kellogg School of Business at Northwestern University, Sally Blount, clearly lays out her viewpoint of the difficult path women face in moving from business school to the professional world to the c-suite. The way Blount sees it, as women transition during their careers, few are interested in making the final jump to the C-suite. Often, women don’t want to put up with the politics or working in management roles where they don’t feel they’re adding value.
Despite the perceived difficulties, plenty of women are interested in advancing. You could be missing the opportunity to build a rich leadership team because of built-in bias. Too many times, managers have launched a search to bring in candidates from the outside and have overlooked the talent they have in-house.
Blount suggests putting systems in place to track talent. At least once a year, you should officially review the talent you have working in low and mid-management level positions. Following that process, you can establish training programs to help promising candidates develop the skills they’ll need to move up the ranks.
Blount also encourages organizations to use exit interviews to pinpoint problems in the current culture. If your best employees keep leaving, look for a pattern and root causes and change what’s wrong. Positions that require too much busywork, for example, should be reconfigured so the employees filling them feel more satisfied with what they’re doing on a daily basis.
Working consciously and steadily toward expanding the demographic range of your c-suite will bring rewards to the employees involved and to the organization as a whole.