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Building Networks: Women Who Support Women

May 20 2019 - by Carole Houlihan, CLP's Gender and Diversity Specialist

Recently I facilitated a focus group on leadership training needs with a group of mid- to senior-level women in the financial sector from different regions around the world.  The results were fascinating and enlightening.

What impressed me most was that the women identified common challenges and issues facing aspiring women leaders in all cultures and in different types of organizations.  Issues such as: perceptions that women are not good leaders; that women do not want to work for other women; that senior women need to do a better job supporting female colleagues; that having more women in senior leadership will change the culture of the organization, and that not everyone in the organization thinks this is a desired outcome.

A recent article in Forbes, Power of The Pack: Women Who Support Women Are More Successful  began with a phrase that inspired me:

A woman alone has power; collectively we have impact. 

The article explains that although we are taught to be competitive and to win, there is much to gain by sharing power, and using one’s power to raise others up. It cites recent research in the Harvard Business Review  which found that:

 …because women seeking positions of executive leadership often face cultural and political hurdles that men typically do not, they benefit from an inner circle of close female contacts that can share private information about things like an organization’s attitudes toward female leaders, which helps strengthen women’s job search, interviewing, and negotiation strategies.

What is your experience in being supported by other women?

How have you shone the light on other women’s achievements?

What have you learned in the process of building and using networks based on trust and mutual support?