Comstock's magazine 0319 - March 2019 - Page 20

n OPINION HERE’S HOW WE CAN CARVE A PATH FOR FEMALE LEADERS by Allyson Hill W e are living and working in an exciting time for female professionals aspiring to reach the C-suite. There are more women in the workforce and earning degrees than ever before. Despite these trends, data continues to demon- strate a significant lack of diversity — in terms of both gender and race — in leadership positions across the country. I joined Golden 1 Credit Union in 2012 as vice president and controller after spending 10 years with one of the big four public accounting firms in Sacramento. As a mother of three young children, I was seeking a position with a strong, community-focused organization in Sacramento that would allow me to pursue my personal and professional ambitions. That means a company that provides a level of flexibility in hours, understands and supports participation in family activities like doctors’ appointments and school events, and values time spent out of the office for person- al and professional growth opportunities. I am now a leader at one of the largest companies in the Capital Region, serving more than one million mem- bers. I am proud to have spent nearly seven years at an organization that values diversity and creates pathways for all employees to reach their career goals. At Golden 1, women hold four of the 12 most important executive-level positions and make up nearly one-third of our management leadership team, which is well ahead of the na- tional average of 17 percent female senior-level managers in the financial industry. There’s a growing body of research that shows increased diversity in leadership positions yields better results. We know this. But what we may struggle with is how to most effectively lift up women in the workplace so that they can achieve positions of leadership. Here are some of the ways you can work in any organization to encourage greater diversity in the C-suite. Provide mentorship opportunities. Having a great mentor can be a career game-changer. Golden 1 has created a natural environment to make sure everyone is challenged, mentored, trained and knows their subject matter so they can develop deeper expertise. Golden 1 makes it a priority to provide entry- level employees and emerging leaders with an opportunity to meet with higher-ups in various departments and even to job-shadow, to expose them to all the opportunities available within our company. Encourage and empower all types of emerging leaders to get involved. Young professionals and emerging leaders need coaching and encourage- ment to speak up and think creatively. We, as leaders, can help prepare them by provid- ing opportunities to attend key meetings. For example, I bring employees I am de- veloping into a meeting first as an observer, letting them take in the overall dynamic of the meeting and the types of conversations held. As that person’s strengths, knowledge and confidence grow, he or she will earn more opportunities to participate in the meetings, eventually presenting or leading aspects of the conversation. Be a leader who commits to action. As female leaders, we must commit to sharing our own stories, advocating for gender parity in our organizations, and serving as mentors to youth and other female professionals. The more we can share our own stories of “how she does it” the less intimidating and more illu- minated the path will become for women across all industries. Our president and CEO, Donna Bland, intentionally reaches out to me frequently and acts as an informal mentor to me, making sure I am able to balance both my responsibilities as a moth- As female leaders, we must commit to sharing our own stories, advocating for gender parity in our organizations, and serving as mentors to youth and other female professionals. 22 | March 2019