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The Future of the C-Suite Is Brighter When Women Support Women

The corporate world has always catered to and supported men in leadership roles. 

Women have been playing catch-up for generations; forced to choose between career and family, between financial success and work-life balance, between supporting a partners career and pursuing their own.

Although we have made progress, there is still a long way to go if we want to see gender equity in the C-Suite. 

 

Female Leaders Should Always Focus on Supporting Women in the Workplace

There may be times in a woman’s career when — out of an instinct to protect herself — she may make a choice that negatively impacts another woman’s credibility or success. This can happen as a result of imposter syndrome or as a response to the stressors of corporate life. Though it happens, it should never be the norm. 

When women have friction with one another at the corporate level, they need to look for ways to use that force to propel each other forward rather than hinder another woman’s progress. Finding common ground and working together will benefit their careers, their organization, and their clients. 

 

Why Do Women Need To Support Other Women?

A brief look at history shows the incredible impact women have when it comes to making advancements for fellow females. The right to vote, the right to open a credit card, and the right to purchase property are only a few examples. Women were integral in advancing those rights for themselves. 

It is and will continue to be the same in the corporate world. Women will only make progress in the C-Suite by supporting the women around them and the women who will follow.

What Does Women Supporting Each Other Look Like?

 

Mentorship

Females in the C-Suite right now have two responsibilities. 

One is to do the job that they’re recruited and paid to do. The other is to look for the women working their way up the corporate ladder behind them and ask, “How am I encouraging these future women on their journeys?”

I hold myself accountable — I did not do enough of this. Mentorship would be the first thing I would drop from my agenda. I would think, “My team can do the mentorship, I’m too busy.” 

I likely had the largest following of any woman during my time at Adidas because I was sitting at the top of the company in the most senior female position and I didn’t do enough to support that following. 

I should have used more of my time mentoring women. I should have rearranged my agenda to have more of an impact.

Women need to do more to help each other grow and work their way to the top. I founded K. Parkin Consultancy to do just that. Through mentorship and coaching, I’m here to support the corporate women of today to find success, navigate the C-Suite, and pave the way for the generations to follow.

 

Group vs. One-on-One Mentorship

Group mentoring can be a valuable way for women to connect and discuss their experiences with other like-minded women. It may also be easier to participate in group mentoring opportunities than one-on-one mentoring — especially within a company that has committed to creating a culture of growth and diversity. 

While group mentoring requires fewer resources than one-on-one mentoring and will allow mentees to network with a more diverse pool of women, the relationships formed aren’t as personal or as uniquely focused on the mentees’ specific career goals.   

When a woman is looking for mentorship that will help propel them up their chosen career ladder — to be mentored through their unique journey — one-on-one mentoring relationships are more beneficial than group mentoring.

One-on-one mentorship helps mentees build confidence, keep their goals in sight, and create a positive professional network. 

Mentorship is an area where current successful women leaders need to do more. When women are excited about their career path, they should always be receptive to potential mentees. 

As a mentee, it will take initiative to find a mentor. Women have to learn to reach out and make connections. Many women have experience and want to share it.

Actively Seeking a Better Balance in the C-Suite

Creating gender balance in the C-Suite is a key part of supporting other women in the corporate world — and those who are on their way. 

The only way to create this gender balance in the future is to step up now to support minorities using the experience of other minorities

Women have to help each other. They cannot think “Well, I’ve done it, good for me,” and then sit back and judge or criticize other women for not having done it yet.

 

Recruit Qualified Women Who Will Be Successful in the Corporate Workplace

I often see companies looking at their employment statistics saying they need to recruit more women. There’s more to it. It’s important to recruit women who, first of all, fit and embrace the workplace culture and, secondly, are technically right for the role they are being recruited to fill.

Focusing on these two factors when recruiting women will encourage success among female hires. It will help propel more women into leadership positions in the future. 

For current female leaders to have an impact on gender balance in the C-Suite, they need to open themselves up to supporting and mentoring other women. 

But they cannot wait until women get into the C-Suite. They must be vocal and visible to new women coming into the organization — people coming out of business school or graduate schools — and support them on their journeys. 

 

Being Steadfast in the Advancement of Women

Female leaders have a responsibility to do what they can to make the corporate world a more welcoming and accommodating place for women — and they must be steadfast in their commitment to do so. They can’t pick and choose the environments in which to support each other. They also can’t choose to stop providing support if or when it becomes inconvenient.  

There is a reason we continue to fail to advance issues of workforce diversity like pay equity and diversity in recruitment. We often choose an issue to support (at a time that is convenient for us), put our weight behind it for a bit but then let the momentum die down. The dust settles and no advancements are made.

Female leaders must find an appropriate way to voice support for fellow females to the appropriate partners within their organizations. They must find ways to support each other and stand united with realistic goals on how a company or a team’s journey can progress.

They have to be authentic in the reality that supporting women in corporate roles is not just a moment in time.

 

Avoiding Stereotypes and Removing the Metaphorical Armor

As a woman in the corporate world funnels toward the top of the organization, she has to be conscious of her persona in the workplace. For years, women have been critical of men and how they behave in the corporate world. 

To work alongside the stereotypical corporate male and make any progress, we have had to put on a lot of armor — creating an image of a stereotypical corporate female along the way (strong, hard, cold, intimidating, unapproachable).

Sometimes women in corporate roles get stuck behind that armor. It may lead to viewing other women as a threat rather than an opportunity to create gender balance and boost diversity in the workplace.

But the goal of a female leader should always be to consciously choose to champion the women around her.

We have to do some internal reflection and determine if our behavior feeds into the stereotype of a corporate woman — and how that may affect the next generation of women on a similar journey.

Leaders should strive to encourage other women to thrive, support their growth, and navigate any vulnerabilities they may be experiencing.

Be authentic and encourage others to follow the journey as well.

 

K. Parkin Consultancy: Providing Support to Female Leaders Looking To Advance Their C-Suite Careers

The support of other female leaders may be the crucial aspect you’re missing in your journey to finding success in the C-Suite. 

Leaning into mentorship and coaching is invaluable and K. Parkin Consultancy is here to help you navigate the expectations of your career and achieve the results you’re striving for.