Get the Career You Came Here For!

A new report has just come out from the National Association of Female Executives (NAFE) on the Top 50 Companies for Executive Women and the results really bother me.  Wonder if they bother you, too.

The intent of the report is terrific: “The NAFE Top 50 Companies for Executive Women recognizes American corporations that have moved women into top executive positions and created a culture that identifies, promotes and nurtures successful women.”  

Yeah, we need to highlight and recognize organizations that are truly supportive of women moving into more decision-making positions and higher ranks!  Their example influences other organizations to do the same.

And, some of the results of the report are impressive:

  • 28% of executive officers at the NAFE Top 50 are women, up from 25% last year and 22% in 2012.
  • Women represent 35% of the top tenth of earners at the NAFE Top 50 Companies, and a full two thirds at the NAFE Top 10 Nonprofit Companies.
  • 96% percent of the NAFE Top 50 Companies now offer job rotation programs and 60% support sponsorship programs.

Sheryl Sandberg who is all about women leaning in to stepping up into positions of leadership where strategic decisions happen, would be proud.

The report also finds that currently 90% - 100% of these top 50 companies offer advancement and professional development opportunities specifically geared for women including management/leadership training, mentoring programs, job rotation, and career counseling.  And 60% now offer sponsorship programs.  

These companies are rock stars!  So here’s what bothers me.  

Take a look at the infographic.  Though offered, the percentage of women using these programs is pathetic!  Except for the 64% usage rate of career counseling (which should be even higher in my opinion), the other programs are only being utilized by 10 – 32% of the women who work in these super supportive, wish-I-worked-for-them companies!

Why isn’t the participation rate nearly 100%?!

Do these women not need such programs because they work in such a rock star, supportive organization?  Or, do they feel they don’t have the time?  Or, has it not even occurred to them to utilize these programs?  Sheesh!

Not long ago I was in the middle of a sweaty spinning gym class when the young, female instructor trying to keep us motivated and pumping our bikes shouted over the music “You took the time to be here today.  Get the workout you came here for!”  Brilliant, just brilliant.  She was right.  I kept spinning as hard as I could.

Same is true for careers, whether or not you work for one of the NAFE Top 50 companies.

If you are working in an organization and you want fulfillment in addition to a paycheck, do whatever you can, utilize whatever programs the company offers, influence them to pay for whatever development you want in order to get the experience, the relationships, and the skills you came there for!

Don’t be clueless about what your organization offers.  If you don’t know, do some research, starting with your manager and Human Resources.

Don’t assume you don’t need these programs.  You do. I do. We all do. We learn and grow from doing, not waiting and wondering.

Don’t believe you don’t have time.  You will always be busy, most successful people are.  Pick something that as a place to start and get going.

Do it for yourself, do it for your family, and do it to be a role-model to other women.  That’s how you step up, lean in, and spin like you mean it.

So does this bother you, too?  Love to hear your thoughts.  Post a comment!