Winning Women

Most people have heard by now that women still have great inroads to make in the C-suite. While more women are entering the workforce than ever before, too few are at the executive level. A newly released study by the Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF) and employee research and workplace performance company Kenexa explores what would help more women travel to the top. The WFF study, entitled “A Roadmap to the C-Suite: Advancing Women in Foodservice,” reveals five key factors most critical to women’s career advancement:

  1. Delivering results through individual performance, and then through others.
  2. Financial and operational understanding of the business.
  3. Building internal work networks and finding senior level advocates.
  4. Learning and exposure through cross-functional and stretch work assignments.
  5. Career development planning to guide aspirations.

Does your company see the progress of more women into the top levels of your organization as a priority? How important is creating a balanced executive team? I’ve heard many in business say they only care about having the most qualified people for each open position. A tough question arises when you have two or three equally qualified applicants for an executive job. If your executive team currently is composed only of men, do you think any weight should be given to the value of having a female voice on the team?

I would argue that from a business and dollars and cents perspective, adding a woman (or hopefully women) to your executive team makes sense. Whatever your company does, in today’s world it needs to appeal to women customers, clients, or end-users. Women often have been the primary decision-makers in household-based decisions such as which products for the home and the children to purchase, but today that reach extends into financial decision-making, as well. More women are staying single longer, and of those who choose to marry, an increasing number are financially co-equal to their husbands, and a growing number are even exceeding their husband in annual earnings. That means, for instance, that financial services products that traditionally reached out to male customers, now must appeal to the woman of the house.

For business-to-business companies, the number of women in the workforce is only going to increase as the years go by. Women now outpace men in those attending college, and in many graduate schools. Creating a diverse C-suite that is able to take into account how a woman might think about or approach a business challenge differently is essential. You could argue that it’s as important as taking into account the perspectives of those from different cultural backgrounds. Those you’re selling to are becoming more diverse; your C-suite should follow suit.

Do you agree that there’s a business value to having a diverse perspective in your executive team? How is your company helping to create a C-suite that includes women?