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Breaking the Glass Ceiling: Empowering Women to Pursue Leadership Roles

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Posted On MAR 13, 2024 

Only 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are female. This figure might seem like a small one—and it is. But it wasn’t until 2023 that this significant 10% milestone was achieved, and though it is indeed a win for women, it also highlights the need for more women in all levels of leadership positions.


Generally, women are cited as possessing a greater arsenal of leadership skills than many of their male counterparts. They’re empathetic, collaborative, relationship-oriented, and self-aware. Of course, task management, drive, and confidence all lend a hand to being an effective leader. However, people are at the core of leadership, and women tend to handle people with unique finesse and emotional intelligence.


So it begs the question, where are all the female leaders, and, more importantly, how can we encourage more of them to shatter the proverbial “glass ceiling?” Encouraging women to step into leadership roles is something we, as a society, need to do better. But as with all things in business, having well-articulated initiatives, and rigorous follow-up, is the best place to start. Below, we’ll dive into some of the ways your organization can encourage women to apply for leadership roles and facilitate an environment around female-friendly mobility.


Give Women a Seat at the Table


What does it mean to have a seat at the table? It means having the same opportunities to be heard, considered, and respected as everyone else in the room. Though this may seem intuitive, women are often, or often feel, as if they are spoken over and their ideas are disregarded. Giving them a seat at the table simply allows them the chance to be an authoritative voice in the room and to feel as if their opinions and skills are valued there.


Take Action


Take proactive steps to identify women within the organization who might have transferable leadership skills and give them an opportunity to take on a higher-level role. In some cases, women need a gentle nudge—though great leaders, women often lack the confidence and assertiveness to pursue positions of power, so cracking the door open is a great way to promote internal female mobility. It also sets off a positive chain reaction, as it’s vital for women to witness other women assuming leadership roles, empowering them to view upward advancement as an attainable goal.


Create Women’s Leadership Development Programs


This can be a great way for larger organizations to get many women together in the same room to network, draw inspiration from one another, and promote mentoring and coaching opportunities. Creating women-led development programs helps catapult women into new ways of thinking about leadership. It also encourages them to expand their confidence, learn more about leadership roles, let go of perfectionism, and take more risks within the workplace. Consequently, such professional growth benefits individual advancement and contributes to the company's overall progress. Ways to facilitate this include:


  • Workshops and training seminars focusing on leadership skills and career advancement
  • Mentorship programs and 1-1 Coaching
  • Leadership retreats
  • Online courses and educational opportunities
  • Diversity and inclusion programs


Eliminate Barriers for Working Mothers


The conversation around working mothers has improved drastically but we still see a lot of room for improvement. Women who balance a thriving career with the challenges of parenthood often experience a host of unique challenges along with workplace biases. Therefore, fostering an environment where working mothers are met with support, recognition, and beneficial resources (such as hybrid and remote work options) can help women realize their full potential both in and out of the workplace. Some great ways to support include:


  • Flexible working schedules like hybrid and remote to supplement mothers' diverse schedules
  • Offering resources such as paid parental leave
  • Career development programs to help working mothers continue to advance in their careers
  • Employee assistance programs (EAPs) that offer counseling and support for work-life balance
  • Foster an inclusive and family-friendly work culture


Be Transparent


While it’s true that women may sometimes require encouragement to pursue leadership roles, it's important to acknowledge their intelligence and strong intuition. One of the best approaches to support female employees is to provide transparent guidance on their career journey, including their path, goals, and actionable steps to attain them. Keep it no-nonsense. By establishing clear and transparent career progression paths within the organization, and consistently discussing and applying them, you can empower women to plan and navigate their professional growth. Encouraging regular performance reviews and goal-setting discussions will enable women to chart their career trajectories effectively, benefiting both their individual success and your organization as a whole.


Make the Future of Work, Work for Everyone


LHH helps individuals, teams, and organizations find and prepare for what's next in the world of work. We empower organizations to expand their capabilities and workers to build brighter futures. Let’s work together to make the future work for everyone.