International Women’s Day: The Two Best Career Advancement Tactics for Women

BlogCareer AdviceLeadership Development Posted: Tuesday 8th March 2016 by

According to a study by Catalyst, a leading nonprofit organization with a mission “to expand opportunities for women and business”, even women who ‘do all the right things’ for their careers don’t advance as far or as quickly as men who employ those same advancement strategies. In addition, the study showed that ideas that women did not progress due to lower aspirations or taking time out to have children were, in fact, myths.

However, the two tactics that had the greatest impact for women were making their achievements more visible and gaining access to power i.e. networking with the ‘right’ people.

Sharon Allen, who served as Chairman of the Board of Deloitte LLP from 2003-2011, agrees with this advice. She recalls being passed over for a promotion to a role she was eminently qualified to do. When she listed all her achievements to her boss he replied that he hadn’t realised she had done all those things. Her learning from that moment was to ensure that the organisation always knew what she had contributed.

Women are often not as comfortable as men about self-promotion and fear judgments that they are overly aggressive. So the key is to find a way to talk about your achievements that neutralises your discomfort and the potential for judgement, such as referring to client feedback or benefits to the company in the context of your success.

Women also advanced further when they networked with important people in the firm, who could influence their careers, teach them how things really work and get them involved in high-profile projects.

Working long hours or staying on top of their market value are strategies that benefit men the most in addition to networking with powerful people. The former does not seem to be a beneficial strategy for women.

However, it’s not just about women ‘doing the right things’. As Jim Turley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Ernst & Young from 2001 to 2013, explained, organisations need to be behind the advancement of women as much as men right from the beginning. At E&Y they started tracking assignments given to men and women at the start of their careers and realised that women were not getting assigned to the priority accounts. Now they aim to make sure that men and women share those accounts equally to create a gender balanced pipeline of new senior executives.

Women can maximise their career advancement by picking the right strategies, but organisations need to be behind them in the first place.


Human Results offer expert HR services on retainer, or on a one-off basis to help guide you through the daily challenges of managing your business from a people perspective, including employee engagement, dispute resolution and resolving workplace conflict.

We also provide expert leadership development coaching programmes to secure long-term capability within your organisation, and a critical support structure for your leaders.

For more information, call Human Results on 01952 288361 for a no obligation, confidential discussion.

Blog post content provided by Abintegro; an engaging, content-rich, online platform for career management and transition.

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