8 Ways Women Can Reach the Corner Office
Many working women have the education and talent but still struggle to cross the chasm to their company’s corner office.
One reason is that on their way there, they begin to search for the mythical balance, according to Teresa Taylor, the former chief operating officer of Qwest Communications and the author of The Balance Myth: Rethinking Work-Life Success.
“They cannot find it because it does not exist and they believe the only answer is to leave or step back in the journey,” said Taylor, who currently serves as a board member for the $7.3 billion First Interstate BancSystem Inc. in Billings, Mont.
Women earn about 57% of the undergraduate degrees and 60% of the master’s degrees in the United States but according to a study published by Catalyst in 2012, only 21% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women, Taylor said. In addition women only hold 14% of executive officer positions, 17 % of board seats and are only 18% of our elected congressional officials.
Rather than achieving a balance that Taylor says doesn’t exist, she offered suggestions for women on rethinking their work success while still being able to excel at home and in the office.
1. Stop searching for balance.
“One issue that holds women back is their search for balance,” Taylor said. “When it’s not there, they get frustrated – possibly turning down a promotion or leaving the workforce completely.”
By staying in the workforce, women can be successful in both their work and home life, she noted.
“If there is something wrong at home, you need to work it out,” Taylor suggested. “Otherwise, it will always bother you at the office. You might change jobs, but your cornerstone is your home life – an important grounding point.”
3. Manage your time more efficiently.
“Be present in what you’re doing, finish it and move on,” Taylor said. “I have my list of things to do, and I’ll assign time slots to it.”
She added, “If I have one hour to work on a presentation at work or one hour to clean at home, I do the best I can for that one hour.”
4. Combine your work and family schedules.
“I used to keep two different calendars – one for home and one for work; but, I was missing work deadlines, my kids’ activities and other events,” Taylor recalled.
So, I combined the calendars, which caused me to start talking about my family at work and integrating my two lives. It’s one life and one calendar. And, now, I don’t miss a thing.”
“When you’re at work in a meeting, be there. When you’re at home, be there. If you’re in a business meeting, don’t be wishing to be somewhere else,” Taylor suggested. “Be present where you are, and don’t feel guilty about where you’re not.”
6. It isn’t just a job.
“Work at a place and on something that you are passionate about,” Taylor said. “Don’t just take a job. Then, you aren’t choosing between work and life – it is your life.”
7. Take the promotion.
“The only way that you are going to be able to effect change is to get yourself and other women in a place where you are making decisions and influencing change,” Taylor advised.
8. Sponsor another woman.
“It is lonely as you continue to move towards to corner office. Sponsor other women inside and outside of your company,” Taylor said.