Challenges Women Face When Climbing the Corporate Ladder
As a Human Resources leader, I have seen first-hand the challenges that women face in climbing the corporate ladder. Despite the progress that’s been made over the last decade, women are still underrepresented in leadership positions. Research has shown that 35% of top management positions are held by women, even though women make up more than half of the workforce in the United States alone. As of 2022, women hold 8.8% of leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies. Women across the world face obstacles and biases that can make it difficult to advance in their careers.
Men and women have a 50%- 50% ratio when they join the workforce. More women tend to drop out of the workforce after mid-m positions. Two big global reasons for this drop are that maintaining a mid-management position clashes with managing the home and becoming a primary caregiver for their family. Nonetheless, we are also seeing a growing trend where women are restarting their careers after a break, which is a welcoming change.
Here are a few lessons I have learned that have worked in my favour while moving up the corporate ladder as a woman.
Actively Build Your Network
As they say, Your network is your net worth. It is important to actively continue building your network. This means not only connecting with your co-workers but also connecting with industry leaders, potential mentors, sponsors, or partners within your industry. Make meaningful connections. Networking is not just about attending events or sending LinkedIn invites, it's way more than that. Add value to your network by sharing your knowledge and by learning from your network. These relationships can provide valuable guidance, support, and opportunities for career advancement.
Invest In Your Learning: What Got You Here, Won't Get You There
To get recognized for your skills and abilities, you must continually develop and improve them. Ensure that you keep a separate learning budget to invest in yourself. This can involve seeking out training and education opportunities, taking on new projects or assignments that challenge you, as well as seeking feedback from colleagues and mentors. It's also important to stay up to date on industry trends and developments, so you can contribute valuable insights and ideas to your organization.
Be Visible & Communicate Your Achievements
You may be good at your work and putting your heart into everything you do, but if you are not documenting or communicating this work, it’s a problem. Visibility is crucial in moving up the corporate ladder. Be confident and advocate for yourself instead of hoping that good work will be noticed or recognized automatically. Make yourself heard and communicate your achievements.
Step Out of Your Comfort Zone & Try Something New
Ensure your career is evolving by being ready for the next role. Seek out opportunities that allow you to get prepared for the desired role. This can involve taking on leadership roles like acting team lead/ team manager, volunteering for committees or task forces, or seeking out leadership development programs. These experiences will help you build your skills, expand your network, and demonstrate your potential as a leader.
Be the Change & Advocate for Change
Change starts from within. Start by embracing your ideas and implementing them in a small group before pushing them to a larger audience. Be vocal on issues of unconscious biases, equity, inclusion, and anything else that you are passionate about. Work towards creating a more inclusive work environment. Support and advocate policies that enable progress on the basis of merit.
The reality is that climbing the corporate ladder can be challenging for women... But it is not impossible. We have several inspirational women running large organizations. Take charge of your career and work towards developing your skills and your presence.
Connect with KWN
Get access to our KWN resources, including info on our mentorship program at www.kensium.com/womens-network or by reaching out via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.