Gender diversity at the high levels of leadership within a company has been directly connected to higher profitability.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics surveyed more than 20,000 businesses around the world and found that women at the C-Suite level increases net margins to the tune of double-digits.
Diversity in the C-suite and leadership levels has also been shown to increase innovation and increase productivity of a company, according to the Harvard Business Review.
But depending on the industry or geographic area, it may be more challenging for women than men to climb the career ladder to a leadership level.
In my industry, a touch more than 21% of leadership roles are filled by women, according to a Deloitte survey conducted in 2019. We see examples of this lack of balance throughout the STEM industry, as well as in the C-suite of many industries. I’m proud to work with a financial firm with several female owners, C-team members, and leaders throughout the company – and I know there are many more firms throughout the region that emphasize women in leadership. To help women on their paths, I collected thoughts from women throughout Domani Wealth to share.
Be a Listener
As you move into the ranks of management, there will be challenging situations with personnel, clients, and processes. Being a good listener can make you stand out as a leader. Pay attention to what clients are saying and feeling. Hear the ideas of your colleagues and ask for their input. See what’s going on around you – in your company, your industry, your community. Gathering this information will help you make good decisions.
Being known as a team player, willing to be collaborative, and embrace opportunities even if they might require extra effort shows that you’re a go-getter. Bringing enthusiasm to your role and continuing to do your very best will help showcase your talent and other leaders will recognize you for your attitude and your work.
Find a Mentor
Find someone inside or outside your organization whom you would like to emulate professionally. Learn as much as you can from them, whether it be technical skills, experiential lessens, or examples on how to lead and manage.
Take a Risk
Step out of your comfort zone and take risks! By doing so, you may find opportunities you may not have encountered otherwise. It may be uncomfortable but you will grow as a leader, and maybe even develop an expertise that sets you apart and helps you contribute more to your company.
Sometimes this is hard as a woman, but believing in yourself and being confident can make a huge difference. Don’t let fear of failure or making a mistake hold you back. Take initiative, speak up, share your thoughts. Respect comes when your voice is heard. You won’t become a leader by staying in the background.
Be Thinking Long-Term
Focusing not just on the day-to-day business and responsibilities of your role, but on long-term strategy and objectives can make a difference. Staying flexible but trying to keep moving toward those targets and thinking big-picture can make you stand out among a team.
Recognize that you don’t know all the answers and there are always improvements to be made, new experiences to learn from, and new information to fold in to your operations. Learn from your mistakes, be accountable, and demonstrate integrity. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and absorb as much as you can – being curious about the organization as a whole, it’s a strategy, and its future goals will help move you down that path of leadership.
When you encounter a challenge, learn to adjust and not let it paralyze you. Divorce yourself from how a business decision may affect you, and rather, think about the benefits for the company and the team, and what will be best for the majority. Hire others who have intelligence and different skill sets, and empower them and learn from them. Give recognition to others as often as possible. Make self improvements as you learn more about how you can change to affect positive outcomes!
Angie Stephenson is a Partner COO at Domani Wealth.