A recent article outlines ideas for keeping more women in the talent pipeline in order to have more women in the C-suite. Sally Blount, Dean of the Kellogg School of Management, offers substantive suggestions for women through various stages in their careers: launching, mid-career, and the transition to executive level.

  1. Launch. Women in their 20s and 30s getting started with their careers feel less justified in applying for jobs in business. Yet, this is when the playing field is the most level.
  2. Mid-Career Marathon. Newly-established careers are at risk in a woman’s 30s and 40s as the demands of raising a family or caring for elder parents enter the picture. Not only do women need support through such life transitions, but Blount emphasizes ongoing skill and leadership training.
  3. Executive transition. Blount admits that this stage is the most nebulous to support. “The women who fall off by chance are the ones who get looked over (and over) when it comes to filling the C-suite jobs. After a few months or years of sitting in C-suite limbo, these women either decide, or someone decides for them, that it is time to step out.”Blount suggests that providing motivational support and opportunities can help women to reach that final point in their career. Here is where closely examining hiring procedures for boards becomes key.

Curious to see if I could find any real life examples of such programs, I did some research. Locally, in the Boston area, I found a few organizations that provide support for women just starting in their careers as well as at the executive level.

The Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce runs a Women’s Leadership Program in conjunction with Simmons College. They offer seminars on building leadership skills specifically for women, negotiation skills, and mentoring opportunities with executive women and networking programs.

Deloitte and the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce are teaming up to form the New England Board Ready Women according to this article in The Boston Globe. The invitation-only program provides training for executive women to prepare them for board positions. Topics include corporate governance, shareholder activism, and cyber security. Susan Esper, a partner at Deloitte and chair of the Women’s Network Advisory Board says that the goal is to increase the number of women applying for board openings.

I believe that Blount’s point about launching a woman’s career well is essential in laying the foundation for more women in the pipeline. They question is, how do we encourage women to seek out those business jobs and apply for MBA programs? I would be interested to hear what your thoughts or experiences are through a comment below or on social media via Facebook and Twitter.

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