What Should a Woman do to Advance in her Career?

by Fleming. Team

Gender equality is one of the most popular subjects when diversity and inclusion are discussed. Catalyst shows why gender equality is still a popular topic in 2015. A recent study from the organization reveals that women currently hold a mere 4.6% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies . No wonder that many women are asking themselves - “What should I do to make sure I have a fair shot at leadership positions?” Suggestions usually vary, but the most promoted strategy is “Be a good professional and be yourself.”

Does being an ideal worker really help a woman advance in her career?

The Club Effect organization took this challenge upon itself and made an entire study - “ The Myth of the Ideal Worker: Does Doing All The Right Things Really Get Women Ahead? ”The survey reveals that only men advanced further and faster if they did all the rights things. In comparison, for women, the strategy of being an ideal professional in the company didn't have the same payoff.

So what actually works? Choose to work for a female-friendly company.

It is clear that there is no silver bullet when it comes to strategies a woman can adopt to advance in her career. But it definitely helps if the company you work for has a female-friendly policy.

What does a female-friendly company do?

We asked Rania Salah, Head of Talent and People Capability at Vodafone Egypt – a company that won an award for its female-friendly environment. Below are the characteristics of a female-friendly company recognized by Rania:

  • Promotes work-life balance : inclusive companies help their female employees to reach a worklife balance through different options for working hours - i.e., flexible shifts, part time, workfrom home, etc.
  • Offers maternity support : companies that embrace diversity provide care and support for their female employees during and after maternity- Ensures equal opportunities : inclusion can be achieved only when promotions are fair
  • Offers benefits : inclusive businesses recognize women's needs and provide them with the appropriate facilities - i.e., ready-made food to take home, gym passes, hair dresser to comply with the business dress code, etc.
  • Provides mentorship : having women acting as role models across the organization makes it easier for women to fulfill their potential

What a success story looks like

Rania Salah shared that she is very grateful to her mother, who insisted that it was very important for a woman to have a career.

When the mobile industry started in Egypt, Rania joined Vodafone Egypt as part of the pre-launch team in the call center. Over the past 17 years, she moved laterally and horizontally in Vodafone, accepted several opportunities and overcome lots of challenges.

Now, as Head of Talent and People Capability, Rania recognizes that it has not always been simple.

“The main challenge I faced in my career (and may be still facing even now) is to maintain a work-life balance, especially since I am a working mom”, says Rania. “It took me some time to change the culture of my manager and peers – to convince them that I don’t need to stay late at night to deliver and overachieve my objectives. It also took me some time to convince my friends that I can be a successful working woman and a good mom, spending quality time with my kids and taking good care of them,”

Rania Salah strongly believes that diversity and inclusiveness is no longer something optional; it’s essential. Organizations that effectively capitalize on the strengths of all employees and leverage their differences and unique values have the most engaged employees. In addition, employees with the highest level of engagement perform 20% better and are 87% less likely to leave the organization.

Interested in this topic?

More articles


To be, or not to be, local-plus

A successful compensation strategy involves keeping expatriates motivated while maintaining a competitive advantage by achieving a company’s corporate goals and budgets. While in theory this seems achievable, in practice there are many challenges with expatriate compensation that cause problems for companies. Many are in a battle to win external talent, and to retain internal talent. At the same time, cost pressures to reduce the expense of international assignments is increasing. The balance-sheet approach is expensive relative to the fact that a very small proportion of a company’s overall total employee workforce (e.g., perhaps 5 percent of employees in total) may be incurring 60 or 70 percent of total salary costs. Not surprisingly, for many years this was a major reason why expatriates agreed to go. There is also the tax equalization expense when assignees relocate from low tax to high tax countries.


Global mobility – a competitive advantage for international business

Despite the stop/start nature of the global economic recovery, one thing that is perennially on the agenda of CEOs and HR leaders is the war for talent. McKinsey in their latest Quarterly Review (1) suggest that ‘progress towards globalisation’s new era will be uneven for economies and companies alike’. Knowledge in the new intangible assets world will certainly mean power. In the digital global age there will inevitably be a demand for new breeds of talent – emanating from both emerged and emerging countries.


All change? Global mobility’s role towards 2020

In this White Paper Santa Fe assess the on-going debate about the role of global mobility within organisations; should they aim to be more strategic, and if so how should they go about doing so? We draw from both the RES Forum Annual Report 2015 and Santa Fe Global Mobility Survey 2014 and 2015 and in addition, other industry research and sources as well as academic research.