The Business of Placing Women in Leadership

by / 0 Comments / 465 View / May 1, 2016

For years women have struggled against the “glass ceiling” or the “pink ghetto.” More women are graduating from college than men. Women flood the workforce. Why, then, are only about 19 percent in the C-suite?

“Research has shown that women leaders are good for business. Companies with the highest representations of women in leadership roles show better financial performance,” writes Anna Marie Valerio in Businessweek.

Even though research shows companies benefit from women leaders and companies say they want high ranking female executives, studies show women lag behind men in this area.

Here are five ways businesses can seriously and deliberately create a plan to promote women to jobs in equal proportions as men:

Commitment from the Top. More than lip service or inclination, the top leadership must have a total commitment to hiring and promoting with gender diversity. When the CEOs are adamant about this, it will happen. CEOs can recommend women for their board of directors; they can encourage the succession planning with a focus on women; and they should establish a company culture of inclusivity.

The 70-20-10 rule. Herminia Ibarra, an expert on professional and leadership development, in her article in Businessweek discussed companies striving to place more women in leadership:

“Invariably, each described the sacrosanct 70-20-10 rule, by which 70 percent of a manager’s learning and development should come from on-the-job learning through stretch assignments, with only 20 percent and 10 percent coming from mentoring and classroom learning, respectively.”

The traditional path of leadership training and mentoring is not sufficient to launch a woman’s career.

Pivotal Roles. Certain positions carry extra weight and are “punch the ticket” kinds of jobs. All too often women rise to leadership into staff roles and are thus placed on the sidelines when it comes to the path to the top. A major chance to produce more women at the top must start with placing women in those key roles that lead to the top.

It’s critical for management to identify those pivotal positions and then focus on filling them with gender equality. The people in these jobs gain visibility and credibility. It’s in these key roles women will learn the leadership skills that will take them to the C-suite.

Succession Planning. Companies must identify and build on the pivotal role positions. They must quantify and standardize the process in their succession planning. They know the key roles that lead to the top. As they look for successors for these jobs, they need to deliberately include women and promote their leadership abilities.

Quality Mentoring. Often mentoring is based on liking a person or their leadership style. Mentors may perceive men as being more worthy for attention, or they may feel more comfortable with them.

To break the glass ceiling, the mentoring process needs to be more organized and formal. Deliberate attention must be given to placing women with mentors who can and will further their careers.

Businessweek, Forbes, Fast Company, and other magazines continue to write articles on the importance of promoting women in leadership. New studies continue to refine successful processes to help them gain more parity with men and reach the highest levels.

Joel Garfinkle is recognized as one of the top 50 coaches in the U.S. and is the author of seven books, including Getting Ahead: Three Steps to Take Your Career to the Next Level. He has worked with many of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Deloitte, Amazon, Ritz-Carlton, Gap, Cisco, and Oracle. Subscribe to his Fulfillment@Work Newsletter and receive the FREE e-book, 40 Proven Strategies to Get Promoted Now! Copyright ©2005-2016. Joel Garfinkle, All Rights Reserved. Visit Garfinkle online at

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