There has been a recent voice of progress, with many businesses pledging a higher commitment to key values of inclusion and diversity amongst their workforce which includes elevating women in leadership roles. As businesses continue to progress it has been proven that a diverse workforce is profitable for all stakeholders. According to a recent Forbes article, “companies with the highest gender diversity, as compared to the industry average, see a much higher return on equity, a higher operating result, and a stronger stock price growth.”
As we strive to enhance the promotion of women, I believe it is vital to find the origin of barriers at hand to ultimately address solutions. Inspired by Sheryl Sandberg’s novel, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,”I became an active member of a “Lean In Circle,” which is a group of ambitious local women who gather on a consistent basis to provide support and help each other grow professionally. As a group we often voice barriers faced in the workplace and identify solutions. A common theme amongst our circle is that women are underestimated in the workplace. Consequently, women lack confidence and feel the pressure to work harder in order to prove their professional skill set and abilities.
A recent article published on LeanIn.org provided specific tips to become a workplace ally, and clearly addressed solutions to concerns the women in my Lean In Circle face. The following is a summary of key points to three primary tips to support women in the workplace, conquer barriers and encourage women to reach their professional aspirations. The highlighted tips were selected because they have proven positive results for me, personally and professionally. I was fortunate to gain a mentor whose guidance, constructive feedback and encouragement inspired me to pursue new opportunities resulting in career advancement and aspirations to go further! As businesses, leaders and peers strive for a common commitment it will require action, from all fronts, to increase the advancement of women.
Make a Commitment to Mentor Women
Mentorship is a beneficial resource for any mentee to increase opportunities for advancement. In fact, “people with mentors are more likely to get promoted” but often women are less likely to gain an influential mentor throughout their career. Not only can a mentor provide guidance, share expertise and help work through difficult workplace scenarios, but can also become a key advocate for their mentee’s succession path.
Provide Direct Feedback
All growth requires learning and critical feedback for improvement. Men are often provided direct feedback with clear instructions and/or suggestions to improve their workplace performance which is a key driver to achieve success. While women are likely to receive generic feedback that is difficult to navigate or act upon. Help women build a clear action plan with direct feedback to improve their performance and increase their likelihood of promotion.
Encourage Women to Go for It
As women continue their professional development, pursue a larger presence in management and gain a share of voice, we must encourage women to reach for new opportunities. Remind them to celebrate their successes and why they would be a valuable candidate. “Women face an uneven playing field at work. This bias is so pronounced that simply changing the name on a résumé from a woman’s to a man’s increases a candidate’s hire ability by 61 percent.” Encourage women to seek advancement. Pledge to create an inclusive culture presenting opportunities to all eligible candidates.
The Forbes article says, “According to Strategy & Research, there will be three billion women in the workplace by 2020… organizations intentionally pursuing the appointment of women to their top leadership ranks will be far better positioned to outperform competitors with both a powerhouse cadre of executives and intimate marketplace connections.” I hope this has provided a voice of encouragement to support women in the workplace and several steps to help the progression of inclusion and diversity that have proven to be profitable in more ways than one.
Aubriana Martindale is the Division Corporate Affairs Manager for Smith’s Food & Drug Stores. She oversees 142 Smith’s Food & Drug Stores throughout seven states of operation in media, external communications, philanthropy and community relations. Progressive Grocer recently awarded Martindale as one of the 2018 Top Women in Grocery for her continued achievements as an influential female in the North American retail food industry. She graduated from the University of Utah with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Business. She is a member of the Salt Lake Chamber Business Women’s Forum and leads an external resource group, Lean In Women of Utah.
Join us for the upcoming Business Women’s Forum Luncheon on September 18, 2018. Register Here.