In the business world, few groups face a more steep uphill battle to professional success than women. Among Fortune 500 CEOs, for example, women currently occupy less than ten percent of chief executive positions.
That number is thankfully improving year by year, but it is essential to realize that the glass ceiling is far from shattered. Things will undoubtedly improve over the next several decades, but what can today’s women business leaders do now to promote equality?
The answer may lie in networking. As a force for good in business, the truth is that women leaders are often held back by their isolation from one another within the corporate landscape. Executive boardrooms across America are still mainly boys’ clubs. It is true, but advances in Internet communication methods have made it easier for female business professionals to connect and drive forward the dialogue on gender in the workplace.
Under normal conditions, in-person meetings would give ample opportunities for networking in 2020. However, with the COVID-19 crisis in full swing, those kinds of events will probably be shuttered for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean that networking has to come to a standstill.
Organizing conferences or informal get-togethers over apps like Zoom or FaceTime can be an excellent option for today’s women business leaders. A simple mailing list conducted via email can also keep individuals in your network informed about important matters in your professional life. However you choose to approach networking; a bit of creativity may be necessary as social distancing measures remain in place.
Even in better times, networking was something of a contentious issue. Most business professionals are opposed to what they feel amounts to “schmoozing.” But networking doesn’t have to feel like an exercise in social manipulation. Indeed, the best kinds of networking tend to arise from genuine connections that professionals make.
For example, keeping up with former coworkers you’ve struck up a friendship with can keep you in the loop about new job openings and other opportunities. Moreover, even if they’re conducted virtually, making time for “social” functions such as online conferences or group discussions can also lead to essential career outcomes.
Yes, that process will be more challenging in 2020 than in years past, and shy people may find the prospect of increased digital socializing a bit intimidating. Others may find that the distance afforded by Zoom calls and Skype meet-ups decreases social anxiety levels.
But the results often speak for themselves: Most people find that the best opportunities they encounter in the professional sphere come from personal connections. As with any unique challenge, it’s a positive mindset that can make all the difference. And it is just that kind of attitude that will determine the impact that women have on tomorrow’s business world.