Women in Leadership: Breaking Barriers (Part 1)
It’s time for a new discussion about women in leadership! Look around your workplace, and calculate the percentage of women. Now look at top management. How many of those corner offices are occupied by women? The statistics have bounced around in the last 10 years. According to Fortune 500, women held 15.4% of corporate officer positions in 2007, compared to 15.6% in 2006. Women in top-paying positions stayed the same at 6.7%. While, there was a 15.6% increase in the number of companies that had no women corporate officers, from 64 companies in 2006 to 74 in 2007. The percentage of women in line positions which often lead to top leadership jobs fell by 1.8% points, from 29% to 27.2%
You may ask what does this mean for women in 2015? Unfortunately, at this point, women are still under-represented on boards and as CEOs. Women are still paid less than men for most jobs. However, let’s shift our focus from statistics and let’s spotlight one woman currently in a leadership role that continued to pursue her goal while breaking barriers – coupled with how those of us that haven’t landed in leadership can be motivated to do so.
Every day a woman in the workforce is asking herself how she plans to get to the top. Does it mean ‘schmoozing’ over her boss? Compromising ones integrity and morals? Or just the opposite, working hard and making the skills you possess more visible?
Stephany VanAlstyne, Senior Director of Channel Marketing for Comcast Business’ Central Division opted to apply herself daily to achieve her current success. She is the epitome of ‘starting from the bottom.’ Starting off as technician dispatcher she was intrigued with the work of a technician. As she learned more about the field, she eventually became an install and service technician, later moving to a maintenance technician. Within these roles she became aware that her job not only entailed managing the plant and repairing outages, but to serve as an advocate for the customer. She enjoyed being a liaison for the company and the customer and wanted to expand her knowledge. So she joined government affairs, where she tackled complaints.
At this point in her career, as some of us have also experienced she began to ask herself, what am I good at? What am I passionate about? Is this all I have to offer a company? An opportunity to enter Marketing presented itself as a Marketing/Promotions Coordinator and Stephany happily accepted. At this time Stephany began to show real aptitude in Marketing and her superiors began to notice. Stephany was promoted to a Marketing Specialist and joined a transitional team that was preparing for a big company change.
During this time Stephany learned a career lesson that she will share with all – SPEAK UP! Her manager told her she had excellent ideas, but she didn’t speak up when it was time to voice those ideas. Have you ever felt as if you were the lowest woman on the totem pole? Have you ever felt your opinion or ideas don’t matter? Have you ever thought your opinion wouldn’t change anything and so you remain silent? You never know who is paying attention or listening. Don’t wait around for people to make decisions for you, make your own decision to take control of your career by elevating your work.
Stephany continued to climb the Marketing ladder becoming a manager as well as becoming an interim Vice President before moving to Atlanta from Virginia where she joined Comcast Business as the Regional Marketing Director.
Read more about Stephany’s journey and advice in our next blog post.