Today, there are more women in leadership positions at Fortune 500 companies than ever before. And the share of women sitting on the boards of these companies has more than doubled from 1995 to 2017.
Women-owned enterprises have increased five times faster than the national average, generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue. These leaders are paving the way for a younger generation to build on their progress. Here are just a few ways women leaders are inspiring the next generation to take on the mantle through inclusivity and advocacy.
Leaders encourage mentorship
Women business leaders can inspire any generation of women through mentorship and sponsorship. These relationships are an invaluable source of support and inspiration for many rising women in business today. Mentoring is not one-sided; this process can also change the life of the mentor as their assumptions about life are challenged by the thoughts and opinions of a younger generation. It’s a learning opportunity on all sides.
Encouraging mentoring within an organization can be valuable to both companies and individuals. Mentoring programs can be developed internally, or through third party groups. Leaders should meet regularly with mentees to understand how to cultivate their interests and passions at work. In these conversations, women can encourage young women’s career growth, help to build skills, and teach this group about the company’s mission and culture.
Leaders lead by example
It’s important for rising women in business to see strong, assertive examples of women leaders in their offices and boardrooms. While women still get paid less than men for equal work, about 80 cents to a man’s dollar, the pay gap is closing. This is thanks, in large part, to women leaders increasingly advocating for themselves and their counterparts. They negotiate with strength for promotions and raises. They don’t sit quietly in meetings. They support the advancement of other women in their firm. They meet with fellow women in team-building exercises. All these efforts send an encouraging message to the new generation that women are capable, respected, and vital parts of any company’s team. And they are willing to put in the work to make their value known.
Leaders include men in the conversation
Women leaders can inspire the next generation when they send a message that women’s progress is dependent on inclusion and diversity. This means opening up the conversation to include men as well. Although studies show women are proven leaders, it doesn’t mean they can’t learn from men also in leadership roles. For example, women leaders shouldn’t be afraid of including men on committees that address women’s working conditions. Additionally, women leaders can invite their male colleagues to speak at conferences geared toward women’s issues. The best ideas and advancements come from having more minds, not less. Creating a fully inclusive discussion helps everyone advance.
Paving the way for success for the next generation of women business leaders means encouraging these women to advocate for their principles and beliefs. Women have spent many decades working hard to overcome obstacles in the workplace and shatter glass ceilings. The next generation of well-educated young women is already accomplished. Inspiring them to be even better happens when women leaders stand up and show them how to take control of their futures.