While the gender gap in corporate leadership positions continues to narrow, women still are woefully underrepresented in the C-suite. In an analysis from Mercer, women hold 29% of senior leadership positions and just 23% of executive roles. Women comprise nearly 50% of the workforce. However, according to this report, only about one-third of high-ranking company leadership positions are filled by women. 

If you want to increase the number of women leaders in your company, start by adding opportunities for professional development. Here are some recommendations:

Job Sponsorship

Too often, women are overlooked for higher positions. In a job sponsorship program, high-ranking and influential leaders work with female employees, focusing on their professional development. They act as a champion and advocate for projects, opportunities for involvement in committees, salary increases and promotions. The sponsor is focused on identifying opportunities to give the employee more visibility in the organization.


Mentorship is similar to job sponsorship but takes a more formal, structured approach. The most successful mentorship programs have a specific focus, such as diversity and inclusion or gender equity. In this case, to promote more women into leadership positions, you’d focus on identifying lower-level female employees who demonstrate potential for senior-level positions. While mentor/mentee relationships can happen naturally, you can create a mentorship program at your business. Pair leaders with female employees based on commonalities such as personality types or areas in which the employee hopes to aspire. The mentor and mentee meet regularly and create a development plan based on the employee’s goals and objectives. It’s important for companies to convey the importance of mentorship and allow mentors the time and resources to work with their mentees in the most productive way. 

Fight gender bias at your company

The United Nations reports that nine out of 10 people have a gender bias against women. Women are often paid less than men for doing equal work. Also, double standards continue to exist. For example, assertive women are seen as difficult, while assertive men are seen as strong. There are ways to fight this gender bias at your company. Make sure women and men are paid equally for the same position. Distribute administrative and other tasks equally amongst the team. Offer flexibility in terms of work hours and locations, when possible. More and more companies are implementing hybrid working models that enable greater work/life balance.