Despite data that shows having women in leadership positions improves a company's financial returns, the number of women at the top of large companies remains astonishingly low.
According to the Pew Research Center, 26 women are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, representing 5.2 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs, Andrea Newell reported as part of our ongoing series on women's leadership. Pew’s most recent numbers (2013) report that only 1 out of 6 board members for Fortune 500 companies are women. The glass ceiling may be shrinking, but it still very much a reality for millions of women in the business world.
For women who hope to be part of the movement that turns those numbers around, the first step is to gain leadership experience. Here are 10 ideas on how to get started.
In many cases, your company will reimburse you for continuing education related to your position, but don't assume you have to shell out a pile of cash in order to improve your skills. Your yearly self-enhancement could be a free webinar, an online workshop or an accelerated training program -- whatever it takes to make sure you get the latest information that's relevant to your field. If you're interested in the sustainability space, TriplePundit's GRI Certified Sustainability Reporting Courses can give you a leg-up.
And don't be shy about your desire for a leadership role. Saying something as simple as, "I'm passionate about your cause and would love to help out in a more meaningful way through leadership opportunities," can go a long way. Many local volunteer-based organizations have very few paid employees, if any, and they'll likely be thrilled to find someone willing to take on a leadership role for free.
If your office doesn't have a green team or is lacking in volunteer opportunities, talk to your boss about getting this going. It may seem intimidating to knock on a supervisor's door with something not directly related to your everyday tasks. But doing so proves you care about and are engaged with your job, and also positions you as a de facto leader of your new green team.
Just remember: Your leadership experience -- both inside and outside the workplace -- should reflect your personality. So, keep that in mind when choosing how you can best land a hand in your neighborhood.
Whether it's a wedding, a retirement party or a killer camping trip, doing the planning can help you gain valuable skills, like getting everyone on board, developing a plan and getting people to go along with it, and making sure everything that needs to happen happens. These skills are necessary in a leader and will serve you well in future endeavors, whether it's a new project in the office or managing the guest list for your cousin's bat mitzvah.
Things like looking after an ailing relative, babysitting a youngster or planning a family event can all help you gain leadership skills, including empathy, managing stress and speaking on behalf of others.
Image credit: Shutterstock
Mary Mazzoni, Senior Editor, has written for TriplePundit since 2013. She is also Managing Editor of CR Magazine and the Editor of 3p’s Sponsored Series. Mazzoni’s recent work can be found in Conscious Company, AlterNet and VICE’s Motherboard. She is based in Philadelphia.