The statistic that only 5% women reach C-Suite or become CEO is shocking. There are more women who go to college know then men. There is an almost 50/50 split between women and men in the workforce but still, only 5% ever reach the top. Why do you think this is? Besides the obvious gender bias that we are all very aware of, I came up with a few reasons that I think maybe attributing to fact only 5% women reach C-Suite.
- Many women don’t want it. Ever since I was little I always thought I wanted to be making my way to the top of the corporate ladder. But once I started working in corporate America I realized pretty quickly I did not want to go all the way. I wanted to have a family and flexibility. I did not want to commute to work hours a day being away from more family. I had another friend who was offered one of the top jobs at one of the top banks and she turned it down. She didn’t want the responsibility that this new C-Suite job would bring and how it could disrupt the work-life balance she had perfected.
- Women are not in profit-generating departments. I am generalizing when I say this but women tend to be creative and in departments like marketing, public relations, and human resources. These are essential departments but most companies (besides brand companies) these departments are not given P& L statements. Because of this, the department head is not learning the crucial skills to be accountable for the profit and loss. If your goal is to be a CEO, make sure you get to try many departments.
- Have at least one if not more mentors- Twice as many men have mentors than women. Make sure you have someone who is 10 years your senior that can show you the ins and outs and pitfalls to avoid. A good mentor can really help you work your way up the ladder.
- Keep Learning- Always be learning. While you are working out, doing housework or driving listen to podcasts or books on tape. Read books that you can be learning and improving your knowledge instead of reading fiction books. The more you become an expert in something the more you become indispensable to your company.
- Confidence- You have every right to be at the table as a man. Believe it and bring it. Voice your opinions, share your big ideas. Women tend to underestimate what they know and men tend to overestimate what they know.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. With your new found confidence, ask for the raise, ask for the promotion or ask to oversee a new product launch. The worst they can do is say no. But if you don’t ask you will never know and you may just be waiting a long time.
- Find a company you truly believe in. If you are passionate about the mission of your company, it will not feel like work. Your passion will shine through and everyone in your company will see it
- We as women need to help each other more. I have worked in male-dominated businesses and female-dominated businesses and I hate to say it but I would take a male-dominated business over the family one any day of the week. Women are hard on each other. We are unforgiving to ourselves and to others. Women hold grudges and mentally direct something for days. I am guilty of doing this! Where men have a way of just letting it roll off their backs. I am always amazed if I hear my husband have a disagreement with a work colleague and later that night or week they are out having drinks. I say to him, “I don’t know how you do that.” He made a good point. Don’t take it personally. In business you need to let things go quicker.
I know this subject is a hot topic because there are many other underlying issues that make it very difficult for women to rise through the ranks but I challenge each of us to help each other out to support each other to get this 5% higher. We never lived in a better time to do this.