What Helps Women Leaders Move Up, Not Out?

Currently, women account for nearly 48% of the global workforce. This seems like progress for gender equality and inclusion, right? But the picture isn’t as rosy as you might think—especially for women leaders.

In fact, recent research reveals that as women move up the management ranks, they’re actually less likely to be promoted to each successive rung on the corporate ladder. No wonder women executives are quitting their jobs at a record pace!

What will it take to remove these obstacles so more women can reach top management positions?

With stellar talent in short supply these days, this topic has never been more important for employers to address. So I invite you to dig deeper with me on this #WorkTrends podcast episode.

Meet Our Guest:  Todd Mitchem

Today, I’m speaking with author, consultant, and leadership development expert, Todd Mitchem, EVP at AMP Learning and Development. Todd is a future-of-work visionary who helps individuals understand and embrace the process of professional disruption and reinvention. And today we’re tapping into his expertise on key trends involving women leaders.

Work, Women, and Power

Welcome, Todd! Tell us, how can women leaders step into their power?

I teach presentation, communication, and executive presence skills for employees, often at large companies like Microsoft. And I would say about 98% of the participants are women.

Often, when I tell these women to step into their own their power, they’ll ask, “Well, how do I do that? I don’t want to seem too aggressive, or too bossy, or…”

My response is, “When you are in a room presenting, you’re there because someone believed you deserved to be there. You just need to own that. You need to step into that power.”

And the next piece is to lean on what you know, lean on what you’re good at, and step into that strength.

Executive Presence is a Skill

How are women leaders applying these lessons to engage their power?

Well, executive presence is a skill. People aren’t born an executive leader. It’s a skill.

So, if you teach them this skill, it’s amazing to watch what emerges from the process.  Because it frees them to bring out all the things they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

It’s powerful. But it’s skill-based. Once you learn the skill, your intelligence, your wisdom, your knowledge all emerge, almost naturally.

Women Can Lead With Their Strengths

You say women leaders need to realize they deserve to be in the position they’re in and should claim it. But what do you really mean by this?

I think society tends to make women think they’re supposed to act like their male counterparts who are successful but may be aggressive or overly dominating.

But in truth, if women just lead with their knowledge, instead of trying to outmatch the egos of their male colleagues, they’ll find they’re in a better place. That’s because they have much more confidence.

How Men Can Help

Todd, you’ve helped thousands of women claim their power and step into their roles more fully. As a man, how can you do this?

It’s not as if the corporate world is now magically wonderful for women. It isn’t. That’s an illusion. But women are evolving at an incredible pace, and men need to help step that up.

As women step into their power, men need to step up and check our egos at the door.

Resistance, or fear, or an unconscious belief structure will destroy you. The ego’s fight to win is about wanting to be right, instead of getting it right.

But the best thing to do for the future of work is to embrace the power we have as a unified group—men and women working together.


For more great advice from Todd, listen to this full episode. Also, be sure to subscribe to the #WorkTrends Podcast on Apple Podcasts or Stitcher. And to continue this conversation on social media, follow our #WorkTrends hashtag on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

The Revealing Truth About the Growth of Female Leadership

As we all know, women consistently shy away from leadership positions. This has been the case and it is important that we seek gender balance within our organizations. A few years ago, when I was in grad school I saw how few women were stepping forward into administrative roles. In 2014, my graduating class only had a handful of women and most stated that they were seeking positions that would keep them within the lower levels of government. This is a problem that is not being solved. So, how can we start getting closer towards a solution?

I am a big believer in mentorship, both in and out of the workplace. Mentoring young women is an excellent way to teach new skills, including leadership development. How else can you develop an emerging leader’s knowledge, skills, and networking savvy?

By identifying learning goals, leveraging relationships, encouraging active participation, and measuring results, a mentoring program that draws on your current pool of talent can provide a solution no classroom can deliver. When a recent hire or veteran employee enters a new organization, the speed with which they assimilate by gaining knowledge, building relationships, and applying prior learning to their new environment creates human capital ROI. The ability of a management team, not solely the manager, to render mentoring support becomes the driving force for the trajectory of the employee’s performance.

Leadership Development: Let’s Support Our Future Talent

Leadership development is intended to enhance the qualities of leadership within individuals or organizations. Some may believe that leadership development fails or neglects to come close to its actual intentions. However, the primary reason leadership development can fail is because leaders cannot be trained, rather they must be developed. This holds some semblance of truth because not every man or woman may be a natural born leader. However, since males and females have different strengths and weaknesses it would be ideal for leadership development to cater to the needs of not only each gender but also each individual. Superior leadership skills include understanding how to nurture an individual, which is also a vital component of developing others, in addition to building relationships, self-development, and displaying veracity. Traditionally, women have rated higher than men in leadership competencies. For example, women are better at taking the initiative. Women have also scored higher at collaboration and teamwork. Men have been rated higher in developing a strategic perspective. So, what does all this really mean for the future? The best response is that it signifies the importance to develop and foster innovative, critical thinkers for leadership to continually evolve and grow, including women.

Cultivating Women’s Leadership

We need to continually focus on cultivating our female leaders. Mentorship and coaching are some of the best and most popular ways to do so. However, I am consistently advising while providing both services to boost one’s confidence. Leaders cannot develop their full capabilities unless they believe that they can. Moreover, confidence is the single most necessary quality in the workplace. How can an employer be interested in a candidate if she isn’t projecting confidence? When we are cultivating our female leaders, this becomes even more important. Most workplaces have become equally competitive, which means much of that competition is from our male counterparts. If women don’t have the confidence to show an employer and their colleagues that they have what it takes to get the job done, then they are not going to be viable candidates for advancement, managerial, or executive positions.

While as women we may want the top jobs, but do we believe that we can actually do the job? As young women, we enter the workforce filled with confidence and seeking the top positions, however after a few years our confidence begins to drop off and we are no longer seeking those top positions. What is even worse is that as young women establish their careers, the confidence that they can achieve those goals drops in half. I can understand why. I have been called aggressive and pushy among other things. Once that occurred I went backwards, shut my mouth, and had an anxiety of speaking up for fear that I would be called names or belittled. It was once I took a step back that I realized the problem wasn’t within myself- the problem was in the workplace culture and I should be supported equally in my aspirations and goals. To make matters worse, I was berated during a mass conference call when I asked a question. Following that, I stopped speaking up altogether and wasn’t sure I earned that position on the proper merit. I knew what Imposter Syndrome felt like. Shortly thereafter, I decided to leave and start my own company. Thanks to my mentors and a very supportive business coach, I moved past those fears and into who I am. I spend my days teaching women not to let structural issues in the workplace damage their careers and encouraging them to dig deep and find their own confidence.

Unfortunately, most workplaces aren’t supportive of these ideals and women still fear leadership positions. My message is that you need to find an encouraging mentor or coach as well as a workplace that will support your desire for advancement. I don’t advise my clients to plan their careers according to societal expectations or what a study states about leadership. You can break expectations, even your own if you continue to work towards a goal in a supportive environment that will develop you, your confidence, and your skills. Please remember that you don’t have to want to be a CEO to be successful; just remind yourself that you can be that and much, much more if you put your mind to it.

Photo Credit: lesliehocker1 Flickr via Compfight cc

7 Companies Committed to Having Women at the Top

Here’s a list of companies that get high scores for female representation in management from the women working directly at the companies.

Equal gender representation in top management is crucial for working women. In fact, a lack of female representation in management is a big reason why only less than nine percent of women in the U.S. hold top management positions. It’s also why the small number of women in high-level careers aren’t staying in their positions.

That said, there are companies working to shift the status quo when it comes to female inclusiveness on executive teams.

Here are seven companies from InHerSight’s database with at least 14 ratings and 4.0 or higher for female representation.

Greenhouse Software

4.4 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This NYC-headquartered tech company houses about 200 employees. Of those, about 30 percent of the most senior-level positions are held by women. This includes jobs in the realms of marketing, design, customer success, talent acquisition, demand generation, legal and some SDR team positions.

Earlier this year, InHerSight did a company spotlight on GreenHouse Software and talked to Content Marketing Manager Melissa Suzuno about its culture and opportunities for female employees. One takeaway from the Q&A is that the company makes sure its hiring and promotion of employees is fair.

For example, it discourages the wage gap between men and women by disallowing salary negotiations. Instead, the company uses market data to lead with strong and fair offerings to its employees.

Greenhouse also has a generous parental leave and perks program, which is based on extensive research about ways to meet the needs of employees, as well as the company itself.

InHerSight reviewers give the company a 4.4/5.0 in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

“Amazing place to work—especially early in my professional career,” one reviewer expresses. “There are so many strong female leaders for me to engage with and learn from, with plenty of opportunities to do so.”


4.9 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

Nearly half of the total 500 employees at this online events planning company are women. Eventbrite made it to Fortune’s annual “100 Best Workplaces for Women” list last year, boasting that approximately 40 percent of management and executive positions are held by women.

This year, it’s one of 50 companies on Glassdoor’s list of the 50 “Best Small and Medium Companies to Work For.”

According to Eventbrite’s website, these accolades are the works of Co-Founder and CEO Julia Hartz, who in the past has appeared on Fortune’s “40 Under 40” business leaders (2015) and “Most Powerful Women Entrepreneurs” (2013) lists.

The company gets a 4.9/5.0 star rating in InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

One reviewer says the company’s dedication to equality is seen in other levels as well: “Having worked at a number of tech companies in the Bay Area, Eventbrite is the first that has a 50/50 gender split. Women are well represented throughout the company at every leadership level … Our Co-Founder and CEO is female and has always put emphasis on mentorship and highlighting the female leaders we have at Eventbrite.”

Johnson & Johnson

4.0 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This company advocates and encourages the success of women across all career levels, especially with its programs like the Women’s Leadership Initiative.

Those programs are led by awesome women in top management like Beth McCombs, Catherine Owen, and Colleen Flesher. The trio won awards at this year’s MAKERS@ program for their accomplishments in advocating for the professional advancement of fellow women workers.

In InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category, reviewers give the company 4.0/5.0 stars.

Fidelity Investments

4.2 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This financial services company takes female representation to a whole new level. It offers employees company culture programs like The Women’s Leadership Group, which gives women at Fidelity opportunities to thrive in the domains of networking, leadership and volunteering through forums, mentoring and onboarding, events and community outreach.

The leadership at Fidelity is committed to providing confidence-enriching opportunities for women who want to reach financial goals long-term. There’s even an article in Fortune written by female executives at Fidelity discussing the reasons why today’s women still don’t manage their own money and why it’s important to restore their confidence so that they can.

The article’s co-author, President of Personal Investing Kathleen Murphy, has spoke at events—like those held by the Financial Women’s Association—to address the issue.

Fidelity Investments has earned a 4.3/5.0 star rating on InHerSight, in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

Teach for America

4.0 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This education management organization is responsible for supporting and developing thousands of teachers and alumni throughout the U.S. And behind the scenes of it all is a sizable number of women employees making it all happen.

A post on NYCAN’s blog, entitled Teach For America & Badass Women, notes a pattern of female inclusiveness over the organization’s rich history. Over 50 percent of senior leaders at Teach for America are women and, in some key moments in the organization’s existence, its leadership team has been more than three-quarters female.

InHerSight reviewers give the company a 4.1/5.0 for the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category.

“Teach for America greatly supports all of their employees regardless of gender; something that I have found extremely unique in comparison with other companies I have worked for,” one reviewer writes.

Bright Horizons

4.3 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

Here’s a child care and family solutions company that has spent years racking up accolades for empowering women workers. Bright Horizons ranked fifth on The Globe Magazine and The Commonwealth Institute’s list of the 2015 top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts, it’s featured in Bentley University’s Companies Where Women Thrive series and, most recently, it made it to Great Place to Work’s 2016 list of the best workplaces for women.

According to Bentley University, women comprise of nearly 70 percent of upper management and 56 percent of executives on the company’s team. Also, 95 percent of more than 20,000 Bright Horizons employees worldwide are women.

Helen Zarba, Bright Horizons’ VP of organizational development and learning services, tells Bentley that the company offers courses from its own Bright Horizons University to support employees. The 24/7 on and offline education platform has a collection of courses specifically focused in women’s leadership training, focused specifically on effective communication and negotiation strategies.

Adding to that, Bright Horizons encourages female employees to attend the annual Massachusetts Conference for Women in Boston and covers the cost of tickets for the event every year.

In InHerSight’s “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category, the company gets a 4.3/5.0 star rating from reviewers.

Katz Radio Group

4.4 in Female Representation in Top Leadership| More ratings

This results-driven radio campaign platform boasts that it has the largest reach of any radio representation company in America. According to its website, Katz Radio Group represents “every major radio group with more than 4,000 radio stations and thousands of digital platforms.”

But its industry success isn’t the only selling point for potential employees. The company is responsible for having some of the most influential women in radio work at its offices—three of which made it to Radio Ink compilation of the 100 most powerful examples of female leaders dominating the industry.

Katz’s EVP of Media Strategy Mary Beth Garber has held a spot on the list for the past 15 years and sits on the executive board of global support initiative Mentoring and Influencing Women in Radio and on the advisory board for the Alliance for Women in Media’s Southern California Affiliate.

Noteworthy female leaders like Garber are perhaps what drove InHerSight reviewers to give the company a 4.4/5.0 in the “Female Representation in Top Leadership” category. One anonymous rater states, “I believe the company has certainly been ahead of the times as far as women in the workplace and especially in management/leadership roles.”

Do you work for a company that has an equal representation of genders in top management positions? Share your experience with us by rating your company on InHerSight!

This post was first published on Inhersight.