Last month the Wall Street Journal convened an Executive Task Force of 200 top leaders in government, business and academia to examine what's holding women back in the workplace - and develop an action plan for creating new opportunities. The key takeaway? There's still a lot of progress to be made.
At the conference, McKinsey & Co. unveiled its latest report, "Unlocking the Full Potential of Women at Work," which explored how companies can move from "good to great" in their advancement and promotion of women. From the report:
"Women are entering in large numbers, but the pipeline suffers just as many leaks and blockages as we found last year. Many women opt to take staff roles, get stuck in middle management, or leave their organization without giving the company a chance to address their concerns."
The conference not only explored the role companies play in the advancement of women, but also focused on the role women themselves play in getting ahead.
Due to social conditioning, women often miss opportunities to take the initiative and earn recognition for their accomplishments. It's a troubling pattern that has existed for decades, one for which I consistently advocate a time-tested solution: Learn to communicate with the voice of leadership to gain the credibility you deserve.
Women at the conference discussed basic strategies for success, to which I add the all-important "how" - immediate actions you can take to become a "Power Communicator."
1. Raise your hand
- Volunteer for high-risk, high-profile assignments
- Ask for what you want and the resources you need
- Take credit for your accomplishments
2. Cultivate relationships
- Go beyond networking; be strategic in building relationships
- Determine who can help you achieve your goals
- Seek out mentors and sponsors who are aligned with your aspirations
3. Use adaptive communication
- Know your audience
- Be concise
- Use language to influence
Savvy companies recognize the impact of diversity on the bottom line and the importance of developing their female talent. Women share responsibility for their advancement by speaking up and asking for what they want - and accepting the credit they deserve.