C-Suite Advisory

How to Support Women with Leadership Potential When Your Business is Predominantly Men

While most industries are heading in the direction of greater equality when it comes to men and women within them, there are still some industries that are male dominant, and in many cases, this is simply because fewer women choose them, so it is unlikely to change dramatically any time soon.

Of course, within these industries there are still women who love the sector they work in and have a lot of ambition within it. In some cases, these women will be among the people you identify in your business as having the talent and potential to move on to leadership roles with you later in their careers.

Supporting Talented Female Employees

For anyone who has strong potential for senior executive roles, it is very important to do everything you can to retain them within your business, and to offer them the support they need to realize their potential and develop towards the future roles you can see them undertaking. This can be even more important when you are dealing with promising women in a predominantly male environment. Here are some things you need to consider to help support these women and hold onto them as employees:

Don’t Make Assumptions About Their Future Plans

One of the things that can prove problematic for women with potential and aspirations towards senior jobs, is that they sometimes get excluded from consideration for things like fast track programs because assumptions are made about what they want from their futures.

While it may not be prudent to invest a lot of resources into the development of someone who does not have ambitions toward leadership, you can also lose out by assuming, for example, that a young female employee will prioritize motherhood over her career at some point in the future. Some women have no intention of having children at all, and others have plans in place for a partner or family member to help look after their children so that they can meet their career goals – you simply don’t know what someone might be planning to do or where their ambitions lie without talking to them about it.

Look for Mentoring Opportunities for Them

Mentoring can be an important part in the personal development plan of anyone you identify as having the potential for future leadership in your business. However, for women it can often be good to offer mentorship from another senior woman in your field. This may be difficult to do within your own company if you currently do not have many women in appropriate roles, but you can look at cross company mentorship programs, some of which can be focused on developing women in the workplace, in order to find a suitable mentoring match for your talented female employee or employees.

It is important to remember that women are not that different when it comes to what you need to offer to support them in their career development. However, when women are a minority in your business by a significant margin, some extra support can help you get the best out of your female talent.

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Aimee Lee Webber
Editorial Aide/Reporter at The CEOWORLD magazine. Nationally Syndicated Advice Columnist. Generally prefer dogs to humans. Loves dragons. New Yorker.