Develop a Robust Female Leadership Pipeline

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Develop a Robust Female Leadership Pipeline

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A recent study by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) reveals that within a year after graduating from college, Gen Y women are already earning $7600/year less than their male counterparts. And why is that? Because they are not negotiating. They are afraid. And the fear of negotiation is symptomatic of a much larger problem.

We need to reset our thinking and behavior.

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

Develop a Robust Female Leadership Pipeline

Assumptions We Make

We tend to make many assumptions. For example, “pay equity will create leadership equity.” In reality, pay equity is just one piece of retaining high-potential women.

Here is another example of an assumption. “High-potential women need more female role models and mentors.” In reality, high-potential women (just like high-potential men) need champions and sponsors (as well as mentors) who are female AND male. A mentor is someone who shares a career trajectory and offers advice, but that’s where it ends. A champion or a sponsor, on the other hand, actively helps emerging leaders.

Do you have a mentor or a champion? Are you fortunate enough to have both?

As for the assumptions, they are not always wrong, but they are certainly not the full story. They are just a piece of the puzzle.

Assumption: Cultivating a female leadership pipeline is “the right thing to do.” Well, that is not the full story. It is not like telling a child to brush his or her teeth or telling a hotel guest to reuse their towels. Those are seen as the “right” thing to do. Whereas cultivating a strong female leadership pipeline makes sound business sense. It’s that simple!

Companies with three or more women in top leadership positions achieve higher scores for each criterion of organizational effectiveness than do companies with few or no women at the top.

Setting Leadership Priorities

In its 2012 report, “Women at the Wheel,” Dow Jones conducted a study of venture-backed companies and concluded that companies have a greater chance of going public, operating profitably, or being sold for more money than they’ve raised when they have females acting as founders, board members, C-level officers, vice presidents, and/or directors. We know that for sure.

Here are some ways to get clear on our leadership priorities:

  • Create a culture conducive to female retention and leadership.
  • Communicate leadership opportunities (and be transparent in the decision-making process).
  • Establish and strengthen leadership development programs to address women’s often unmet needs.
  • Avoid the pitfalls that can undermine good intentions.


Want to learn more about how your company and culture can empower women? Are you interested in how to identify high potential women? Do you want to understand the five most important leadership competencies? If you said yes to any of those questions, check out Alexia Vernon’s webinar, Develop a Robust Female Leadership Pipeline.

Alexia Vernon
Alexia Vernon

Alexia Vernon has been branded a “Moxie Maven” by the White House for her unique and effective approach to women’s leadership development. Alexia is the Founder and Director of Influencer Academy, a 9-month program for female leaders seeking to cultivate their skills in public speaking, persuasion, negotiation, coaching, facilitation, and high-impact interpersonal communication. A former women’s studies and public speaking professor, Alexia has contributed to media including CNN, NBC, the Wall Street Journal, Inc., Forbes, and Women’s Health. To learn more about Alexia and Influencer Academy, visit

Connect with Alexia on LinkedIn.

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Develop a Robust Female Leadership Pipeline

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