A woman has power – as women collectively we have impact. Women have been taught to be competitive with one another, because there were so few female senior positions at the top. So how has that worked out for us? It is over 100 years since we got the vote and still only 6 CEO’s in the top 100 British Business are female! At the current rate of progress, it will take over 200 years to close the global gender pay gap and over 100 years to close the overall gender gap. We can’t wait that long. The truth is that raising each other up and harnessing the power of collaboration is truly how we’ll change the equation—and have a lot more fun along the way.
There are plenty of boys’ clubs, especially at board level, where women don’t always feel comfortable, so I have created Leading Ladies, where senior female leaders can come together and feel like they belong. The aim is to harness the power of collaboration. To support each other in better decision making, better leadership and to get better results! To mentor those coming through the ranks whilst supporting each other in a non judgmental all female ‘board’.
There’s a clear business case for equality. McKinsey finds that companies that are in the top quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21 percent more likely to experience above-average profitability. Research from DDI shows that companies with gender diverse teams enjoy 1.7x stronger leadership, 1.4x sustained profitable growth, and 1.5x stronger growth culture. We know that equality is the right thing to do, but it’s also good for the bottom line. So why is it not happening faster? Because there is something blocking us, sometimes it is unconscious bias, sometimes it is conscious bias and sometimes it is Us!
We need to reverse the stereotype that women shouldn’t or don’t support other women. There is research that shows women in particular benefit from collaboration over competition. Study after study shows women who support women are more successful in business.
It’s no coincidence that companies that develop and advance women are part of the Fortune 500. Findings show that firms focused on improving women’s representation experience 34% higher profits than firms with low women’s representation.
New research in the Harvard Business Review finds that while both men and women benefit from having a network of well-connected peers across different groups, women who also have an inner circle of close female contacts are more likely to land executive positions with greater authority and higher pay, while there was no link found for the success of men in terms of the gender composition of their inner circles.
Women trying to rise up into leadership face cultural and systemic hurdles that make it harder for them to advance, such as unconscious bias. The study suggests that a way to overcome some of these hurdles is to form close connections with other women, who can share experiences from women who have been there, done that.
There’s a new women’s club that we didn’t have before, because the workplace was largely male dominated, now that so many more women are in the workplace, we’re finding our voice. We’re also building circles of trust with one another because we may be experiencing the same challenges and blockers, and have each other’s backs.
Access to networks is seen by many as one of the key barriers preventing women from advancing. We know that women are under-sponsored by senior men, and may need to compensate by developing strong professional relationships with other women. Women need to act therefore as mentors and sponsors for one another. It is a key part of the Leading Ladies Collaborative.
So how to find and cultivate a close network of female professionals…
Make your connections count and nurture them. There is power in relationships that extends beyond a ‘hello, nice to meet you’, exchange business cards then move on type introduction. When you create connections based on shared interests and goals, you’ll be more successful at your job, because people want to work with people they know and like. Leading Ladies was developed as a ‘safe’ and nurturing forum for senior female leaders to develop themselves and each other – and then support the development of talented women coming through the ranks. Its a focused time for senior women to invest time in themselves and our future leaders!
Networking has a tendency to be a bit industry focused, but Leading Ladies is about bringing different industries backgrounds and experience together in one ‘board’ of amazing women. You connect with women you would never even imagine, and that’s when magic can happen.
Reframe what “networking” is – it creates pressure for you to feel like it’s something you have to do, and then stress about how to do it. Simply putting yourself in environments that give you the opportunity to meet with peers and get to know each other and share experiences can be a game changer. And chances are, if you make meaningful connections, they are ones that will last a lifetime.
Prioritise connecting and building the relationships. You don’t do business with a company, you do business with people you like and trust. Have a think about what is important to you at work – what do you value – then have a look and see if your work time reflect your values? A lot of time it doesn’t because we spinning so many plates. We’re not connecting when left to our own devices, so schedule time for it. Put it in your diary.
Nurture because connection building is ongoing. A relationship create an emotional connection, touches your heart and creates an everlasting partnership. To keep connections alive, they must be nurtured. So when you meet connections you need to invest time to nurture them, Leading Ladies allows this to happen naturally with a consistent group of ladies meeting monthly.
Help other women shine. PrimePersona is about your time to shine -, just as important is helping another woman to shine with you – which makes us all brighter! So build other women up! If you see fellow women doing a great job, give them credit – create a shout out! It may seem like you’re taking attention away from yourself, but you’re actually showing that you’re a supportive team player as well as an inspiring leader—and secure enough in yourself to praise others.
Find your Leading Ladies team—and tap into them. Who would be your go-to group of ladies if you had an emergency, needed honest advice, or wanted a key business introduction? When it comes to building relationships, you often get what you give. Life is a bank you get out of it what you put in.
Who do you have in your professional life that serve as your support network. People you can bounce ideas off, go to for advice, pick you up when you need a boost. This is so important for your career and mental well-being.
At Leading Ladies not only do we support each other, but we act as connectors to people and opportunities. It is amazing to be part of a group of women who want you to be your very best and actively help you to succeed. We’re better, stronger, wiser and more formidable together.
If you would like to know more about how to get involved in Leading Ladies – feel free to get in touch here