According to a Harvard Business Review report, more women in leadership roles were rated by their peers, their bosses, their direct reports, and their other associates as better overall leaders than their male counterparts — and the higher the level, the wider that gap grows. Despite that, however, the majority of business leaders in the United States are men, holding 64% of leadership positions. This number increases among higher-level management, with 78% of top managers being men. Given this discrepancy, it is important that women find unity and guidance from their peers.
Value of a Mentor or Coach
Having a mentor or coach can help women have the confidence and courage to take a leap of faith and start their own business. It’s also important that women have supportive communities to better help them thrive. We need peers who are walking through the journey of being a woman founder together. Another study from the Harvard Business Review shows that while both men and women benefit from having a network of peers across different groups, women with a close-nit female support system are more likely to get higher paid positions with higher authority than those that don’t.
There are a variety of organizations that offer support for women in business and leadership roles. Women Presidents’ Organization, Inc. (WPO) is a non-profit membership organization for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies. The members of the WPO take part in professionally facilitated peer advisory groups in order to bring the “genius out of the group” and accelerate the growth of their businesses. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive. They not only provide the most relied upon certification standard for women-owned businesses, but also offer the tools to help them succeed. KNOW Women is a high-achieving culture that elevates and connects all women and their businesses, professions, and communities, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, color, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender expression, socioeconomic status, or physical appearance.
WBENC offers a program called the WeTHRIVE Program, which was started for women owned business leaders to survive, grow and thrive through the COVID pandemic. Typically, 250 women business owners participate in each WeTHRIVE cohort. The participants of each cohort bond and help each other through difficult and challenging times.
Organizations like these meet frequently, allowing women to mentor each other. Not just in their professional lives, but in their personal lives as well. Picking at least one organization to join can ensure women have support from peers who are walking similar business owner and founder journeys. These connections also refer business to one another and support business growth.
Discrimination and Harassment
Women also still face sexual discrimination and harassment in the workplace, as is evident by the recent #MeToo movement. That is why it is so important to have a support system to share the challenges women leaders face. Organizations like WPO, WBENC and KNOW Women can offer emotional support as well as help solve critical business problems. Sometimes women business leaders just need to get out of our own heads. They need to hear alternative perspectives. And sometimes you just need to know someone has your back.
As unfortunate as it is, women face challenges that men just don’t. Obtaining funding can be an unnecessary hurdle for women. According to MarketWatch, only 2.2% of all venture capital goes to women owned businesses. Additionally, male-founded businesses receive funding after their first attempt nearly 35% of the time. But for women it is less than 2%. From receiving less support from upper management than their male counterparts to being asked to have a male cosigner on a building lease, discrimination is still commonplace in the business world. Having a women-led support system to navigate such issues, providing professional and personal advice, can be crucial in creating a successful business.
Find or Create a Support System!
Given the off-balance ratio of men in leadership positions, some women may find they lack the self-confidence to achieve their goals. Which is why it is important for women to surround themselves with those who can offer encouragement. Finding that support system can be crucial in achieving your professional and personal goals and help them be more empowered to pursue their dreams.
This guest post was authored by Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman
Dr. Sharon Lamm-Hartman is the Founder and CEO of Inside Out Learning, Inc. (IOL), an award‐winning global leadership, team and organization development consulting business. In addition to running IOL, Dr. Sharon is a global executive and presentation skills coach, leadership and organization development consultant, speaker, writer, educator, wife and mom. She has designed and delivered over 3,000 innovative programs, including many women’s development and executive presence and presentation skills programs.
She has her doctorate in leadership and organization development from Columbia University and a master’s degree from Cornell University. Dr. Sharon has coached and trained thousands of CEOs, executives, educators, professionals, and entrepreneurs worldwide. In her upcoming book, The Authenticity Code™: The Art and Science of Success and Why You Can’t Fake It to Make It, Dr. Sharon helps you understand that the secret to your success lies in being your authentic self. The Authenticity Code™ is currently available for preorder on Amazon, and Authenticity Code™ programs are available at www.insideoutlearning.com.