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Looking for a seat in the C-suite?

Then you might be interested in the C-Suite Program launched by the Business Council of Australia last week.  The BCA is a collection of CEOs of Australia’s top 100 or so companies and the C-Suite Program will match CEOs involved in the pilot with one senior woman from another BCA member company identified as having the potential to become a CEO or CFO themselves within the next five years.
So far 11 mentors have signed up, “nearly all men” according to BCA Chair Graham Bradley in an interview on Sky Channel’s Business Sunday program last week.
Given only 2% of Australia’s top 200 public companies are led by women, the BCAs members are mainly men.  That this initiative has come about as a result of men CEOs talking to other men about the issue is a good thing.  Bradley also went to lengths to explain this “one of many initiatives by member companies” and that it is intended to complement the programs already in place in these individual organisations.
Anyone serious about changing the gender mix in top levels understands the need to engage men to achieve sustainable change; in this context it’s a good thing that the men are getting on board.  However given that BCA member companies currently employ hundreds of thousands of individuals, it’s a shame that they’ve decided to involve only 11 women in the initial pilot program.
Bradley’s own advice to women at the CEW lunch in Sydney a couple of weeks ago was to take more risks and be more aggressive in realising their leadership aspirations – so its a pity that the BCA members weren’t prepared to do the same thing by involving more women in the process.
While this initiative is certainly a good thing, our position at sphinxx is “Please Sir, may I have some more?”  We think there are more than 11 women worthy of a place in the C-suite and we’re going to ask the BCA to make more spaces available for sphinxx members. 
What do you reckon, would you like a spot in the C-Suite?  Drop us a line if you’d like to go on the waiting list for a place; and if you’ve missed out on a spot, here’s some practical tips you might apply in finding a mentor of your own:
  1. Set yourself goals: what are you looking to gain from a mentoring relationship and what will success look like?
  2. Use initiative: organised mentoring programs can be great but you don’t need to wait for your employer to find you a mentor for you; finding your own mentor shows initiative and will be well received by a potential mentor. And you will know best what will work for you.
  3. Look around you: when I met Jack Welch in London a couple of years back I asked who his mentors had been; his response is that he reads widely, even taking advice from newspapers and current affairs about what to do and what not to do in business.  
  4. Get specific: Identify a specific skill or competency you would like to develop; then identify someone who demonstrates has strengths in this area. Ask them if they can spare 30 minutes to share some of their secrets.
  5. Find a champion: Did you know that 80% of jobs are never advertised?  By confiding in a person of influence, and informing them of your goals and aspirations, they can be on the lookout for you and put you forward for opportunities as they arise.

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