Lean In and Advance Women in the Workplace

Work Life Balance or Work Life Integration?

Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, hopes to that her new book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead” will create a global discussion and movement on gender issues in the workplace. The book, scheduled for release on March 11th, pushes women to look inward, work harder and create small peer groups “Lean In Circles,” to share experiences and follow a Sandberg-crafted curriculum for improving your career. A well-orchestrated book tour could make her the Betty Friedan of the digital age.

Fifty years after “The Feminine Mystique” was first published, women continue to mange professional, family and lifestyle challenges. Work-life balance has been shifted to work-life integration– with the acknowledgement that balance may be unattainable so the new goal is to just address it simultaneously and make it work! Women’s representation in Fortune 500 leadership positions has stagnated in recent years (only 21 female CEOs in Fortune 500.) Female representation on Fortune 500 Board seats is at 16.6%. Why is this the case?

Women in Business Leadership

Several corporations have signed on as “launch partners” for “Lean In”, including American Express, Google, Sony, Johnson & Johnson and multiple media businesses. Employers can leverage their Employee Resource Groups to drive it viral. ERGs provide a win-win opportunity for employers and female employees because their broad membership of empowered and connected women enable the flow of ideas up and down the hierarchy and across silos. ERG’s can partner with corporate learning teams to deliver a book club format and market internally to different functional leaders.

At my alma mater Wellesley College, we often say that, “there’s a special place in hell for women who won’t help other women.” Women need to leverage their networks and be willing to have crucial conversations filled with honesty yet tempered with kindness around executive presence and sponsorship. We need to carve out time to cultivate our personal brand and step up as mentors for our millennial sisters.

Companies Lean In to Leverage Women at Work

Companies that figure out how to leverage women will become global powerhouses. Forward thinking companies are leveraging ERGs to develop talent, capitalize on business opportunities and create an environment where new ideas and opportunities can flourish. What innovative initiatives has your company launched to develop female talent and support female leaders and women at work? How is support for working families (flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, childcare, etc.) being addressed? I have pre-ordered the book and plan to start a “Lean In Circle” for my network. Join me?

For more information about the Lean In Community, join at facebook.com/leaninorg.

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Lisa Bonner

Lisa Bonner is an experienced change agent and Senior Vice President with Roberts Golden Consulting. She helps global Fortune 500 companies solve organizational issues and manage major changes to drive achievement of bold business objectives. Lisa is passionate about football, fitness, decorating and raising twin boys. Connect with Lisa.

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