20 Fearless Ways Women Can Advance Their Careers

Kathy Morris, Legal Careers Advisor | Under Advice, Ltd.

Despite being roughly half of the workforce, women made up only 24% of C-suite positions in America in 2022 and even fewer, worldwide. No doubt employers need to continue to make changes to promote gender equality. I also believe we can each make strides to maximize our own success. What can women do to empower themselves for greater career advancement?

As a lawyer and the founder of my business counseling lawyers and law students in their careers, I know the power of asking: Ask for the title you deserve. Ask for visibility in a role in high-level projects. Ask for the raise or salary adjustment you’ve earned. Be ready to make your case effectively, then ask.

And, in the true spirit of asking, I turned to the members of Forbes Coaches Council Women Coaches Group—an online community I lead—to share their top advice for women looking to leap career boundaries.

1. Let go of the overriding sense of loyalty to a job.

Many women struggle with the feeling of being indispensable to their company, team or job, and have an irrational sense of loyalty that makes them feel guilty for leaving others behind. Let go of the need for perfection and worry about how others will cope without you. Focus instead on empowering yourself as well as your team. Rise to new challenges that allow you to grow and enjoy the journey to success. – Ask Chernova, Ask Chernova Global Corp

2. Be fearless and tenacious.

Don’t take no for an answer. If they say it can’t be done, ask why. And if you can’t get a seat at the table, girl, create your own table. You teach people how to treat you, so the standard you accept is the standard you set. How you deal with adversity will define your future. Your power comes from your self-confidence and knowledge, so pursue these relentlessly! – Angela Sedran, The Business Growth Accelerator

3. Start your own business.

There are nearly 13 million women-owned businesses that employ 9.4 million people in the US. Even though women entrepreneurs get 16% of angel funding and less than 2.3% of venture capital, the fastest track to the C-Suite is still through entrepreneurship. You’ll learn so much and add huge value. Create your own game and start at the top. – Christine Rose, CEO of Accel

4. Pay attention to what lights you up.

As a woman, you can empower yourself by noticing what lights you up. Not because lit-up women are beautiful, magnetic and fun to be around, but also because it’s fun to b lit up. Dare to be great by paying close attention to your needs, being assertive and staying true to your values. – Alla Adam, Alla Adam Coaching

5. Own your title.

Wear your title as well as you do your best outfit. It may feel awkward, but only because we’ve been trained to feel less than, and then presumptuous if we own what we’ve rightly achieved. Stand tall and clear in your status and accomplishments. You’re neither less than nor more than when you rise. Your value is vastly beyond enough. Own your title and success with ease and awareness. – Leeza Carlone Steindorf, Core Success Coaching

6. Learn how to negotiate.

Many women feel uncomfortable negotiating a salary, discussing a promotion or asking for a raise, while the majority of our male counterparts have no problem doing so. Leverage your accomplishments and experience, talk about them matter-of-factly, demonstrate how your set of skills will benefit the company, and ask for what you want assertively. – Sonia Maslovskaya, SoniaMPower

7. Establish leadership presence.

Develop a second team. Your ability to be perceived as a leader is as strong as the leaders you’ve developed around you. Look for those with leadership potential and good character. Invest in them and their career development. Position them for stretch assignments, and then recognize and reward their efforts. This will not only improve your team’s effectiveness but your leadership presence as well. – Julianne Cenac, Ph. D., The Leader Channel

8. Build relationships with decision-makers at all levels.

Invest in authentic relationships with leaders and decision-makers at all levels, not just your own. You can build them with intention by dropping a note of gratitude or sending a relevant leadership book to those executives you admire. Don’t leave your career trajectory to chance—email or call hiring managers where you want to be and state your desires with transparency. – Tammy Kling, Voices Speakers Bureau and OnFire Books

9. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want or need.

Women often hesitate to ask for things like a raise, a promotion or even a more flexible work schedule. Yet, it’s important to remember that you can’t always rely on others to recognize your worth, your values ​​or your needs. Asking for what you need is not a sign of weakness or impatience. It shows a level of self-awareness and confidence that can be a valuable asset in any workplace. – Lara Augusta, Embracing Potentiality

10. Self-advocates.

Female leaders often find themselves unconsciously adhering to aged social constructs, which include being caretakers of others and putting others ahead of themselves, and have been validated for playing in this space. It is important to find the right balance and even sometimes tip the balance towards amplifying our achievements. – Afsheen Ismail-Wey, The Phoenix Coaching Co.

11. Challenge any subconscious, limiting beliefs.

From my experience, many women leaders hold themselves back through a lack of true self-belief, low confidence, unwillingness to speak up, etc. My advice is to identify any beliefs you have about yourself that contribute to these behaviors. Then, let them go and replace them with empowering beliefs that serve you better. If you need it, get support from a coach to help you with the process. – Cath Daley, Cath Daley Ltd

12. Develop emotional intelligence and speak up.

One piece of advice for women to empower themselves in career advancement is to work on becoming more self-aware and learn how to speak up! Learning how to contribute confidently in meetings and during discussions, as well as responding intelligently to negative emotions, is essential. Developing emotional intelligence is critical to building solid relationships and your professional network. – Tinna Jackson, Jackson Consulting Group, LLC

13. Understand and use the right mode of communication.

If advancement isn’t happening, it may be due to a breakdown in communication and lack of personal advocacy, not intentional suppression. Communication comes in four modes: statements, questions, requests and demands. Advocate for your advancement by using the right mode. Make clear requests rather than statements and questions, and co-create transparent goals that will get you what you want. – Amy Wong, Always On Purpose

14. Build strong partnerships in and out of the workplace.

A growth journey is built on strong partnerships—in the workplace and at home. Women, including leaders, find it difficult to describe the personal from the professional when it comes to everyday work, seeking support or building a network. Part of the battle will be won when we learn how to leverage the power of reciprocity for building stronger professional relationships. – Gitanjali Saksena, LagomWorks

15. Pursue careers that align with who you are.

Pursue careers that align with who you are and what legacy you would like to leave behind. Such a compass creates long-term value propositions that need patience and sustainable outcomes. To keep going long term the key is to balance your life with well-being at the center so that you have the energy and perseverance to stay on your path and leave a better world behind without getting burned out. – Jaya Bhateja, Abhyudaya Consulting Services

16. Find a mentor or sponsor.

A key piece of advice for women seeking to advance in their careers is to find mentors and sponsors who offer guidance, advocacy and growth opportunities. They should also take initiative to build their skills, network and visibility within their organization or industry. Positioning themselves for career advancement helps break down the barriers that have historically limited their progress. – Savannah Rayat, Rayat Leadership Coaching

17. Focus more on what you can control versus what you can’t.

Be clear on the values ​​you provide and be consistent in articulating what you want in your career and why, as well as what would make you a great fit (while using emotional intelligence on how you do this effectively in your environment). Get a mentor or coach who can help guide your steps and a sponsor who can advocate on your behalf. – Sharissa Sebastian, Leadership Mastery Alliance

18. Make career advancement your own mission for cultural evolution.

Every woman is part of the solution as we gain greater leadership respect and rewards. Every step is a step toward breaking glass ceilings and creating systems and environments that we value and enjoy. Be resilient, knowing that non-inclusivity is a symptom of a bigger problem rather than a personal rejection. keep going! – Daphne Michaels, Daphne Michaels International

19. Practice building your confidence.

Research is clear: Confidence can outweigh competency in moving to the next-level leadership. Building career confidence is a bit like yoga — the combination of mindset, disciplined practice and stretching yourself are the ingredients for success. The more we can build confidence for ourselves, the greater our strength to unlock what we want and advance our careers. – Marita Decker, FutureCourse Education

20. Build a network of female reciprocity.

Together we rise! Leverage your network of female coworkers, professionals at other companies, friends or business besties by asking for support, cheerleading and whatever else you need. Most women love to help one another. Also, return the favor: Give them shout-outs, mention their names when they are not in the room, introduce them to people who could be a beneficial connection and more. – Micha Goebig, Go Big Coaching & Communications, LLC

Forbes Coaches Council is an invitation-only community for leading business and career coaches. Do I qualify?