Women in Business: Navigating the Leadership Labyrinth

Thirty-two of the 500 largest firms in the US are now led by women. This recent milestone equates to 6.4% female leadership, despite women making up 51% of the US population. The progress represents a positive trend for the next generation. Also, women owned businesses are nearly equal to those owned by men. Today, while men in leadership roles still outnumber women, the balance between the genders is growing every year. This leads me to believe we are making progress.

Peter Northouse, who writes on leadership theory and practice, suggests that, what was once known as “the glass ceiling” is actually a labyrinth. In her book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg offers a similar analogy, describing the journey women take into leadership as a “jungle gym.” These new metaphors seem more accurate, suggesting that it is not a straight shot to the top but, rather, an adventure filled with challenges and opportunities.

In my role as an adjunct professor of leadership at Dominican University of California, I see first-hand confirmation of the statistics that indicate women are pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in greater numbers than men. What is encouraging is that the next generation of women—and men—in my classes seem to view the idea of having a woman boss or women in leadership as being the norm in their futures.

Another twist in the labyrinth is that women have traditionally had less employment continuity than men, as many stopped working to take on much of the responsibility of child rearing. If one really thinks about it, motherhood should probably be included on one’s resume, as it certainly contributes to strength of character. In reality, however, it fuels a gap that often makes it more difficult for women to achieve leadership positions.

As part of the Women Leadership and Philanthropy Council at Dominican, and as COO of Private Ocean Wealth Management, I look at the next generation of business women and see incredible leadership qualities—qualities that will absolutely let them one day make their way to the very top of the jungle gym.

Whether you are a female executive or running your household and finances, women need to take ownership of their financial futures. To start a dialogue regarding your wealth management needs, call COO Susan Dickson at 415.526.2900 or send email to [email protected].

Private Ocean is a wealth management firm based in San Rafael that manages over $1 billion in assets.  In 2016, Private Ocean was named Best Wealth Management firm by North Bay Biz and has been named one of the Best Places to Work by The North Bay Business Journal and the San Francisco Business Times. Private Ocean works with senior executives, business owners and other affluent individuals with a minimum of $2 million to invest.