Female leaders: Lean back to help the women following in your footsteps

Mentoring younger women might be the best way to help all make their best contributions.

It’s been almost a decade since Sheryl Sandberg first told women in business to “lean in” and become leaders in the workplace. And while women are making impressive strides—a record 41 CEOs on the Fortune 500 are female—that’s still only 8.1%. Since women account for over half of the labor force in America, it’s clear that a rung is broken somewhere on their career ladder.

Here’s my suggestion for how we can start to repair it: As female leaders continue to lean in, they should also make a point to “lean back” and mentor the women who are climbing the ladder behind them.

Women’s History Month, which celebrates our strength, perseverance and achievement, is an ideal time for women in senior leadership positions to extend a helping hand through mentorship. We have a responsibility to pass on the lessons we’ve learned and to guide up-and-comers through all of those tricky-to-navigate sections of the career ladder.

Chances are, there are rising high achievers in your organization who would greatly benefit from your experience in navigating gender bias while advocating for yourself. Younger women might also need help recognizing and deploying their innate female strengths.


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