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.

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