How can you accelerate the careers of female millennials, who are the new era of talent?
Throughout March this year, both men and women in Singapore were busy celebrating International Women’s Day (perhaps it should be “International Women’s Month”)! I was energised by the positive feedback received on PwC’s recent thought leadership report, “The female millennial – a new era of talent”, and “Aspire to Lead” webcast on the confidence to lead.
Although I am not a millennial, over the month I did reflect on two key themes highlighted in the thought leadership report, and their importance on my own career:
1. Having the confidence to lead – encourage females to try new experiences and roles, and to take risks.
Reminding female millennials to have the confidence to lead is something which resonated with me personally. Having started my career when Australia was in a recession meant that I quickly learnt that I had to be confident, introduce myself to managers I’d never met before and ask for work from them when I didn’t have any work assigned. Hopefully, if I did a great job, I would be assigned more interesting work for them later on.
2. Go on an international assignment early in your career – identify high performing females at junior levels who show potential to be at the top and to lead, create short term secondments to give them a flavour of working overseas, and increase their likelihood of accepting a longer term, more strategic role later in their career.
One of the reasons I joined PwC Australia was because I wanted to work overseas. Luckily, early on in my career, I was selected to go to Europe for a short training course. Eager to pursue a two year secondment overseas, I regularly ask my counselling partner and manager in my regular sessions how I could be selected for one. My two mobility experiences with PwC were some of the best experiences of my career.
Mobility assignments can help increase one’s agility – an important attribute that employers look for in. Unfortunately, whilst the majority of women want to work outside their home market, often they are not given these opportunities. PwC Australia’s recent report “Developing Female Leaders” suggests that employers adopt certain strategies to reduce bias in global mobility. These could include making international opportunities available to female employees at earlier stages of their careers, championing role models, and tackling the dual career issue.
Female millennials today have many more role models than I did when I started my career. However, they are also confident and their expectations are high. More than nine out of 10 female millennials in Singapore seek out employers with a strong record on diversity, equality and inclusion. Fortunately, CEOs are increasingly see that diversity and inclusion is important for both their business performance, as well as retaining talent who can think and work in different ways and who can lead cross-functional, cross sector and cross-cultural initiatives. Diversity is no longer a ‘soft issue’, but a crucial quality in the talent pool across all dimensions, whether it be gender, ethnicity, knowledge, skills or experiences. Global mobility is one of the best ways to equip female millennials to these skills and experiences.
As leaders, saying the right things on the topic of gender diversity is no longer sufficient; the female millennial wants to see visible action from the leaders of their chosen place of employment. We all have a role to do more than ‘talk the talk’ – we must “walk the talk”.
First published on LinkedIn on 12 April 2015 here.
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