It seems like a highly complex and potentially insurmountable problem. Even after decades of hard work and progress toward gender parity in the workforce, we still see reports of disappointingly low numbers of U.S. women in senior leadership roles. Despite the fact that women represent more than half the country’s population, earn more than 57 percent of undergraduate degrees and an even higher percentage of master’s degrees, women represent a mere five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. We are only seven percent of top executives in Fortune 100 companies, and just 26.5 percent of executives, senior officials and managers overall. These statistics come from a 2018 fact sheet published by the Center for American Progress, and demonstrate the severity of the problem that faces us.
I’m an entrepreneur and CEO of a successful fashion retail business called Pink Lily, and I’m also a woman who would like to live long enough to see us close the leadership gender gap. I’d like to see more businesses investing serious time, personnel and resources into the development, engagement and empowerment of their future women leaders. To help my fellow business owners and leaders to approach this seemingly Herculean task, I’ve got a series of suggestions worth considering.
1. Take time to develop female talent.
Professional development and filling the pipeline toward senior leadership begins with hiring, onboarding and training practices. According to CareerBuilder, 36 percent of U.S. employers lack a structured onboarding process for new hires, and based on anecdotal information all around us – that number may be even higher than reported.
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