Fortune has released its Most Powerful Women in Business list, which features General Motors CEO Mary Barra, PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi and Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson in the top three spots. Over the years, these leaders have advised professionals making their way up the corporate ladder to keep learning, take on challenging assignments and stand up for themselves.
Women hold a relatively low percentage of CEO posts at top companies, despite studies showing the clear business benefits of diversity, said Elissa Sangster, executive director of the Forté Foundation. Companies that want to help more women get top jobs need to reach out to female employees who are just starting their careers and outline a path to leadership, she said.
New CEOs need to listen to the people around them, develop a list of priorities and communicate with employees, said Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America. She frequently communicates through video messages, which has helped cultivate trust and a sense of authenticity, she said.
Women hold only 24 of the CEO posts at Fortune 500 companies. Women tend to receive opportunities when companies are struggling -- a phenomenon known as the "glass cliff" -- and, unlike men, they are rarely given a second chance to hold an executive position at a major company.
Many graduate-school candidates are retaking the GMAT to increase their scores, which may mean more financial aid and internship offers. The Graduate Management Admission Council says 28% of students take the test at least twice, with 43% of test-takers submitting their scores to full-time MBA programs.
In 2013, 30% of companies helped employees pay for a part-time MBA program, down from 68% of companies that did so in 2011, data from the Graduate Management Admission Council show. Business schools are adapting by offering scholarships, in-office courses and working with employers to craft student assignments around specific problems faced by companies, officials say.
Job applicants can counter any unconscious biases during an interview by asking, "Do you have any concerns about hiring me?" says Kim Dukes at KNF&T Staffing Resources. The question can open the door for conversations to clear up any misunderstandings that may have arisen during the interview, she says.
Oct. 28, New York | Nov. 4, Boston Do you know a college student that wants to enhance their resume? Forté is offering two conferences this fall to build leadership and career skills. The College to Business Leadership Conference brings together students and women business leaders from top companies that offer summer internships and entry-level opportunities. The College Fast Track to Finance Conference introduces women to financial careers through a stock pick challenge and career expo. The application deadline for both events is Oct. 2.
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.
Helen Keller, writer and political activist
About Forté Foundation
Forté Foundation is a consortium of leading multinational corporations,
top business schools in the U.S. and abroad, and the Graduate Management
Admission Council (GMAC). Forté has become a powerful change agent directing
women towards leadership roles in business and enabling corporations to more effectively
reach and retain top female talent. It is the only organization that provides a national
infrastructure for women at all stages of the career continuum to access the information,
scholarship support and networking connections they need to succeed in business careers.
Learn more at