Building Women Support Systems in the Workplace

Businesses benefit when women on every level, from entry to executive, support each other via mentorship, writes Carol Hymowitz for Forbes.

The Forbes article quotes Maggie Wilderotter, chief executive of Frontier Communications, as saying that women helping each other up the ladder is “a business imperative.”  Wilderotter says that, in her case, promoting women to higher positions in her company was very necessary, as it was important for the top management of the company to reflect its largely-female customer base.

Now with women making up 40% of Frontier Communications management, Wilderotter reports that a larger variety of perspectives allows greater diversity and skill sets to be employed in the company’s important decision-making.

Companies benefiting from women in decision-making roles have been seen in other cases.  The Whitehouse Project issued a benchmarking report in November 2009 stating that companies with the greatest number of women in top management reported greater returns on equity and total returns to shareholders than companies with the fewest number of women at the top.

In terms of leadership quality, the report stated that the “transformative” style of women’s leadership benefited businesses more than men’s “transactional” leadership style.

Women’s perspectives can move companies forward in huge ways.  Besides that, adding women to top management positions can create more comfortable and egalitarian environments for the women already there.   Forbes quotes Margaret Maxwell Zagel, the only woman on the senior executive team of Grant Thornton, as saying that some of her male colleagues need to understand that they treat her differently than they do each other.

Bringing women together to help each other is one of the main premises of the Vision 2020 initiative.  Vision 2020 seeks to connect women leaders across the nation to each other.  We want to build vast networks of women supporting each other in their individual efforts, which ultimately sustain our collective effort to promote gender equality in all fields.

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One Response to Building Women Support Systems in the Workplace

  1. nextgenwomen says:

    One of the best strategies for supporting women is to create corporate women’s networking forums with teeth. In other words, workplace women’s groups can’t be seen as social hours or fluff, these groups need to demonstrate their progress with metrics and be carefully branded so that they’re taken seriously by men and women. Of course, this usually means making a solid financial investment. I often think that cheap, volunteer-run affinity groups do less good than we think, often because they’re not taken seriously and lack executive support.

    Selena Rezvani, Author of “The Next Generation of Women Leaders”

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