SWINGING FROM THE BROKEN RUNG
Bridget Lohrius, Founder and CEO of SANDWINA
Are you a woman in the workforce swinging from the broken rung of the corporate ladder? Stuck in the messy middle and uncertain how or, worse, unable to level up?
Men hold 71% of leadership roles, women only 29%, and women of color a mere 6%. So, if you are a woman in the workforce, there’s a good chance the answer is “yes.”
The pipeline begins to narrow at the first step up to manager, and women never catch up because there just aren’t enough of us to promote.
But when we are in leadership positions, we increase profitability: one study by Credit Suisse concluded that companies with 50 percent of women in senior leadership had a 10 percent higher cash flow return on investment.
What can be done to fix the broken rung and fill that pipeline with women? Most of the work falls on leaders of organizations to fix the systems to level the playing field and create workplaces that work for women. But there are steps we can take for ourselves to advance.
Here are five tips to consider as you plot your moves to grow and close the gender gap while you’re at it.
1. TRACK YOUR PROGRESS – EVERY MONTH
Schedule monthly performance check ins with your manager to solicit feedback. Protect this time and make the objective of the meeting clear. This meeting is not a status update, but rather 30 minutes for you to ask specific questions about your performance and share key metrics that show your impact. Share questions in advance so your manager has time to reflect and ask that the feedback is based on performance vs. personality.
2. SHOWCASE A STRATEGIC MINDSET
Bring strategic ideas to leadership that align with the goals of the organization. This is a great way to add value without taking on a pile of additional work, and it also demonstrates your understanding of the business, the vision, and your commitment to supporting the company. Let’s say your leadership team has made it clear that cultivating a culture of openness and transparency is critical, perhaps you share a case study of a company doing this well and identify some best practices that your company could replicate. This approach spotlights you as a strategic thinker who is committed to the growth and success of the organization.
3. GET A COACH
Hire a career coach and negotiate for your employer to pay in full or subsidize the cost as part of your professional development. Coaching unlocks opportunity and income. We see it every day with our clients who are getting promotions and raises. At SANDWINA, we are disrupting the coaching space by making it more affordable for all women to work with a coach, not just the execs who’ve already made it to the top. Several of our corporate clients are now offering coaching as a benefit or subsidizing the cost, making it more accessible to women earlier in their careers who are looking to grow.
4. ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT
Ask for a promotion. Sure, the ask needs to be justified based on your contributions and meeting goals. Be sure to share quantifiable results, positive feedback from your manager, team, and peers. But ask. Promotions are rarely just served up to all those deserving. We must get more comfortable advocating for ourselves and amplifying our achievements. Want to call it bragging? Fine, but managers and leaders are more distracted than ever, so speak up! Of course, there are no guarantees, but you will have advocated for yourself and let your manager know of your ambition.
5. UPSKILL, UPSKILL, UPSKILL
Upskill in the areas that are holding you back. Need more experience managing a P&L? Take an online course. Need to develop your project management skills? Apply to MomProject.org’s RISE program for a Google program management certification. ‘Tis the season of Quiet Hiring, remember? Many companies are looking to upskill and retain people versus take on the high cost of acquiring and onboarding new talent, so look for those opportunities inside the organization to grow. And then, step up, raise your hand, and make your business case for why you are the best person for the job. Then negotiate your way into a new role with a salary bump, spot bonus, or more flexibility.
We need women in corporate America. Women in leadership positions drive profitability, cultivate cultures of empathy and compassion, leverage diverse perspectives to run equitable businesses. The risk of losing women in these spaces is quite a serious threat to the workplace of the future. While it will take intense and difficult work for organizations and leaders to fix the systems, we can do our part for ourselves and each other in the meantime.