Women Leaders Strengthen Workplaces. Here are Ways to Strengthen Your Leadership Pipeline

The promotion of women leaders in the workplace is essential for a thriving and equitable workplace. Research shows that organizations with more women in leadership positions have improved firm value and economic growth, as well as increased innovation, philanthropy, and collaboration. Additionally, women are more likely to engage in transformational leadership, which further fosters employee morale, motivation, and performance. Despite these benefits, women still only make up 10% of Fortune 500 leadership. Clearly, there is still much work to be done to fully utilize the talents and skills of women in the workforce. So, what can we do to increase the representation of women in leadership?

Identify potential leaders early. The leadership gender gap is created at the very beginning of careers. Women are 30% less likely than men to be promoted from entry-level to managerial-level positions. Early identification can help organizations provide women with the support, resources, and feedback they need to reach their full potential. This can include challenging work assignments, training, and coaching, which can give them crucial experience and opportunities to hone their leadership skills. Information from assessments and/or performance data should be utilized to identify potential leadership candidates early in their career.

Create mentorship and sponsorship programs: A significant barrier to the participation of women in leadership roles is the lack of role models and mentors. Mentorship and sponsorship programs can be invaluable here, as studies have shown they can help individuals achieve greater career success, improve employee engagement and retention, and open the door to enhanced confidence through skill building and leadership competency development. Impressively, research has found that individuals with mentors are promoted five times more frequently than their non-mentored counterparts. Additionally, because such programs typically most benefit white women, special attention should be given to ensuring these programs equally benefit women from historically marginalized groups.

Encourage engagement with women-led professional organizations: In line with fewer mentorship opportunities, women also have smaller internal and external networks and related opportunities for gaining recognition and resources. Women’s professional organizations can provide opportunities to hone leadership skills, observe or work directly with women leaders, and to take on leadership roles. Overall, these experiences help women expand their view of leadership and develop the skills and confidence they need to succeed.

Cultivate a culture of inclusion: One of the largest barriers to the participation of women in leadership roles is the prevalence of (conscious or unconscious) biases, discrimination, and unfair treatment in the workplace. To address these, as well as to ensure women feel valued, respected, and supported, there should be a focus on a culture of inclusion. This can include identifying and providing training to male executives who can use their privilege and in-group status to support and advocate for women in the workplace.


  • Jennifer Nguyen, Ph.D. (She/Her)

    Jen is a Managing Partner at CMA Global, where she has been has been helping clients with executive coaching, assessment, talent management and strategic planning needs since 2000. Whether her clients are small or large, family-owned or entrepreneurial, she leverages her knowledge and experience to supplement and support internal talent management resources. She received her master’s in industrial-organizational Psychology from the University of Colorado and earned a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from St. Louis University.

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  • Erica Medrano

    Erica is a graduate student in industrial-organizational psychology and Associate Consultant at CMA. She received her Bachelor of Science in psychology with from University of Georgia in 2018, then went on to receive her Master of Science from the Florida Institute of Technology in 2020, where she is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in industrial-organizational psychology. She is passionate about using research to make a positive impact on the workplace, with an emphasis on leadership, teams, and well-being.

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