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September 2019

5 Strategies To Become A Woman CEO

The percentage of female CEOs in Fortune 500 companies reached 7.4% in 2020 — meaning that despite good advances in gender diversity, only 37 women are leaders in these companies. Similarly, in corporate boards of directors there are virtually no all-women boards and only 28% of Fortune 100 board members are women. 

To become a female CEO and balance out the gender disparity at this level within a company, these strategies are a must:

Identify Opportunities that focus on building skill

To effectively lead a company, you must begin by gaining all the skills you will need to run it effectively. As an HR executive search firm, we know that a leader of this caliber must have the right decision-making, communication, organizational and leadership capabilities. There is no class that details step by step how to better foster these skills, but you can build these skills out over time (even beginning in high school) by:

  • Becoming a volunteer for a non-profit agency or charity
  • Joining a young entrepreneurs club and participating in the activities
  • Participating in student government

Get a Degree

Education will take you places. Now, the minimum that many employers require of its candidates is a bachelor’s degree. Without a degree, it is almost impossible to rise in rank to become a CEO unless you are working for yourself. Most job placement agencies also will ask you to get a degree if you hope to build a lasting career. Some good degree choices include getting a bachelor’s in strategic human resource, strategic management, or engineering, among others. Receiving an education in these fields provides you with a solid framework by which you learn what goes into leading a company.

Invest in graduate studies

If you already have an associate’s or a bachelor’s degree, investing in higher education is a good next step. As HR executive search firms will tell you, many CEOs hold MBAs or advanced degrees. As a woman who wants to compete fairly, you must invest in the same. However, it is advisable to gain some work experience after obtaining your bachelors and then enroll for an advanced degree or an MBA while still working. This gives you hands-on experience where you can apply theory into practice. Consider the following before making the final decision:

  • Ensure the program you undertake has practical training in leadership and organizational behavior. According to HR executive search firms, this is an important requirement for anyone who wants a leadership position in an organization.
  • Is the Alumni network extensive? A CEO maintains great networks. You must learn how to build working relationships with other leaders in other organizations.

Build experience

Whatever position you find yourself starting in, give it your best and get all the experience you can. As you keep building up your experience, aim for management roles that give you an opportunity to head business units, such as the head of marketing or strategy. Make sure you have your resume looked over by leading HR consultants to match you with available opportunities.

Increase your expertise

A CEO has a broad knowledge of various parts of the company and how they interact to make the company thrive. Try to take short-term courses that will enable you to become familiar with different segments of a company. For instance, if you hope to be a CEO in a production company, familiarize yourself with the production process. It’s vital that a top CEO has adopted a learning mentality.

Some top executive recruiting firms also advise that CEOs gain international business skills. Ask any HR executive search firm and they will tell you that most companies want to employ CEOs that can run their business globally or can expand it to international levels. 

Becoming a CEO is a journey that women are beginning to achieve, and today there’s increasingly broad support for building gender diversity in the C-Suite and the boardroom of corporate businesses. When you’re ready to take the next step in your career, rely on the help of Frederickson Partners to get you there.

Frederickson Partners, a Gallagher company is a market leader in retained executive search since 1995. As one of the top-rated HR executive search and C-suite recruiting firms, we have expertise in placing Chief People Officers, Chief Human Resources Officers, Chief Diversity Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Legal Officers and many other senior leaders. We draw on a broad network of rising and established executives and leaders, and a 28-year reputation as a talent acquisition and HR Advisory provider.

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