Today, women in business programs are more refined and developed than ever, which leads me to ask myself: What can I add that is different? That is not a reflection on the valuable advice and information that other reports provide, but I want to shift the context and share tips and advice I’ve learned through my own career experience and in my role as the National Leader of CBIZ Women’s Advantage.
Let me start with what is the single most important factor in the discussion of advancing women in the workplace: personal competency. We have to agree on this because it establishes the benchmark for the larger discussion. When we talk about achieving goals of diversity, it should never be at the sake of getting the most competent person for that position. As much as that seems obvious, all of us as women should expect that competency is the leading factor. We owe this to our company, ourselves and our careers.
Below are four traits I believe all women in business programs should foster and encourage in the women participating in them. These can be learned, developed, strengthened, validated and tested.
1. Intentional: When you focus on a goal, you know exactly what it is and you are not afraid to take the necessary steps to achieve it. You don’t give yourself any excuses or cut yourself any slack. You are intentional about moving that goal forward. Intentionality means no excuses and no blaming outside people or things. You continue to find resources available to get yourself to that goal.
2. Confident: This is an absolute must-have and I’m seeing it more and more in our own female professionals here at CBIZ. Whether it’s a large gap or small one, without being confident, you are going to find yourself not intentional, making an excuse. This means the word “sorry” is not in your vocabulary.
3. Persistent: Persistence means having that follow through to get things done. You cannot tolerate significant delays and you should not apologize for your resolve. You get what needs to be done, done.
4. Networking Competence: The ability to network well is becoming increasingly valuable in both internal and external settings. Networking is no longer just attending conferences and professional group meetups. It means understanding how and when to network and with whom. Timing is everything.
Women participating in business programs has become an important element in career and personal development, and there are very clear contributors to success to ensure such programs meet the needs and objectives of participants. Creating a program that works for your company and which will be successful in the long-term requires ongoing care and attention. Stay tuned next month for a follow-up post on considerations and takeaways for starting a women in business program at your company.