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5 tips for women to be successful in the workplace

Allie Halter (BSBA '17) and friend.

Allie Halter (BSBA ’17) and friend.

Did you know that only 14.6 percent of executives in companies nationwide are women? More strikingly, did you know that women hold only 4.6 percent of CEO positions?

Why is this the case? Young women today are starting their careers better educated than their male counterparts. In fact, research shows that companies with more women in executive positions make a 53 percent greater return on equity and 42 percent higher return on sales. However, women of all ages are less likely than men to ask for raises or aspire to top management jobs. Is this difference because women leave their careers to care for their families before reaching a top position? Or are women afraid to ask as a result of attitudes towards them in the workplace?

Top women at Wells Fargo, an American multinational banking and financial services holding company, believe that any woman can rise to a top leadership position. I attended the 2015 Wells Fargo Women’s Forum and spoke with many women within Wells Fargo who offered tips for rising to the top of an organization based on their own experiences in the business world.

Here are their top five tips for reaching the corner office:

Be accountable.
Accountability means saying what you are going to do and doing what you said you would do. Wells Fargo Senior Vice President of Treasury Management Andrea Scalise said she makes sure that no matter what she’s doing, she always demonstrates accountability and responsibility by following through with commitments and showing up as a leader.

Scalise encourages women to set personal goals and be decisive when it comes to career choices. Lastly, Scalise suggests that a large part of success comes from the mistakes you make and the ability to own them, fix them and prevent them from happening in the future. 

Have confidence.
Danielle Squires, managing director of Wells Fargo Securities, recommends that pure confidence ensures success in the business world. Squires mentioned that the gap between men and women in the workplace has closed considerably—but not fast enough.

Squires encourages women to step up and be confident in their work because we work just as hard as our male colleagues and can handle the same challenges they can. Further, Squires tells women to stop questioning our abilities because we are all capable of the work if we would just have the confidence to know that we are.

Use effective communication skills and be self-aware.
In order for women to succeed in the workplace, Suzanne Morrison, executive vice president at Wells Fargo, suggests that effective communication skills and self-awareness are absolutely necessary. Morrison explained that we communicate in many different ways. For example, our body language and even the way we sit play into the idea of needed confidence that Danielle Squires noted.

Morrison said that in general, women take up less space in a room by the way we sit and stand in comparison to men, which projects a message of insecurity or uncertainty. In order to combat this perception, Morrison suggests that women practice self-awareness by paying close attention to themselves and the people around them. She explains that listening is a huge part of communication because you take the information communicated to you and communicate back, which enables the building of relationships and problem solving.

In many organizations, the majority of conflict usually stems from a communication breakdown. Morrison encourages all women to think about whom you’re communicating with and, in turn, how you like to be communicated with, because leaders and employees of all levels value awareness and communication.

Show empathy and honesty.
As women, we are often empathetic and can understand what someone else is experiencing. It can be harder for men to show empathy in the workplace. This recommendation to show empathy and honesty at work comes from Linda Redding, Wells Fargo’s national sales manager.

Redding strongly believes that success in the workplace stems from having the ability to understand where others are coming from, including their position and set goals. She notes that having empathy is one of the greatest leadership qualities and encouraged all of the women in the room to develop the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s place.

Redding also noted that honesty creates value for women in the workplace – not just being honest about all matters concerning your work, but also being honest with yourself about what you want to do and why you’re doing it. Redding advised the women attending the forum to show up every day as your authentic self, because being honest with yourself about the traits you bring to the table and not letting other people project traits on to you will make you extremely successful no matter where you work.

Strive to be inspirational and optimistic.
Lastly, always strive to be inspirational and optimistic. Indhira Arrington, the head of wholesale diversity strategic recruiting and programs at Wells Fargo, believes that all women should reflect the change we wish to see in the world and possess the qualities that allow us to show up and be our best selves every day.

Perhaps the best and most inspiring advice I received at the forum was to strive to be the person who opens the door and helps the people behind you. Be optimistic about all situations, attempt to find the silver lining and always motivate and inspire those around you. After all, being successful in the workplace is about being of service to others and making yourself and someone else better than they thought they could be.

These tips can aid any woman interested in moving up the chain of command at any organization. When working in the business world, always be accountable, be confident in yourself, use effective communication skills and be self-aware, show empathy and honesty, and always strive to be inspirational and optimistic in order to strengthen your chances of success.

Women have the power to significantly influence the world of business. We shouldn’t be discouraged or doubt our abilities. When we are younger, we all believe that we will be the President of the United States, but somehow we slowly lose that faith along the way. Why should we?

As women, we should raise our hands, have our voices heard and be confident in our ideas because I believe that women can truly rule the world.

By Allie Halter (BSBA ’17)

This post has been adapted and republished with permission from the author. View the original post here.