According to Catalyst’s 2020 report, the number of women in senior management roles reached 29% globally. While this is a significant milestone, there’s no denying we have a long way to go. According to the International Labour Organization, women are overrepresented in support roles such as administration while being underrepresented in most senior leadership roles. More often than not, men hold the coveted c-suite and board member positions in business.
It is no surprise that women who enter these senior leadership roles then find themselves in uncharted waters—dealing not only with the common challenges of an executive position but being a woman in a senior leadership position. Executive women must address issues and problems their male counterparts do not face. That’s why executive women must find and surround themselves with supportive allies and peers to help them navigate the unique challenges and issues of being a woman in senior leadership. At EWF International, it’s for these reasons we believe every executive woman needs a peer advisory forum, a group of peers who can provide insight and support to the unique role of an executive woman.
What is a Peer Advisory Group?
Peer advisory groups are forums comprised of members in similar roles, typically from non-competing industries. Peer advisory is a proven form of support and advisement, and it’s not new. The idea of a peer advisory forum has been around for centuries. The first documented example of a modern peer advisory group can be traced back to 1727, with Ben Franklin’s Junto. The club was developed for the self-improvement of the members and featured peers with diverse skillsets and interests who would strengthen and support each other for mutual advancement.
Today’s peer advisory groups help leaders come together and provide perspective and assistance. These forums help members feel less isolated in their roles and provide lessons from the hard-earned experience of other group members. Senior leaders can share their expertise and experience in a guided manner that benefits the knowledge and leadership skills of the entire group. Peer advisory groups provide a resource and learning opportunity that fills a unique spot between formal leadership development training courses and one-on-one executive coaching. The peer advisory group functions as a personal advisory board to help executive leaders better address actual challenges and become better leaders by broadening their perspective and minimizing blind spots.
Peer Advisory Groups For Executive Women
Executive women need confidential peer advisory forums more so than their male counterparts. A confidential peer advisory group can help executive women get the perspective, insight, and support for their unique challenges from a group of true peers. Only a group of other executive women can truly understand and empathize with the challenges of the position and provide ideas and strategies they have learned through experiencing the same type of situations.
It can be difficult to find a group of peers for executive women. They need peers that check both boxes of being senior leaders and women, a small percentage of a percentage. Peer advisory groups just for executive leaders can often isolate women leaders. Sometimes, they feel they cannot speak truthfully about the challenges they face because male executives cannot relate to the situation or that the group may devolve into a boys club, drowning out a female executive’s voice. And more so than men, women in senior leadership often feel like they cannot ask for assistance without it being seen as weakness or incompetence.
Another problem with gender-diverse peer advisory forums is the stylistic difference in the way women and men often communicate and lead. For instance, executive women often have higher emotional intelligence and are often more open to seeking help. These same positive qualities in leaders are often overlooked or dismissed by men in executive leadership positions. Certainly, executive men and executive women have much they can learn from each other. Still, there is value in choosing an executive peer advisory forum specifically tailored to women to avoid the hurdles that come from the stylistic difference of men and women in senior leadership. That way, executive women can focus on improvement without needing to accommodate their male counterparts or feel like they’re being mansplained.
The very purpose of a confidential peer advisory forum is to be a supportive space for senior leaders to learn leadership techniques, inspire innovation, and express any uncertainty in a safe space without organizational repercussions. Peer advisory forums for executive women, like those facilitated by EWF International, provide women in senior management roles with perspective on their leadership, careers, blind spots, and opportunities. A peer advisory group tailored specifically to executive women helps provide a woman in senior leadership the edge needed to deliver results and go after the career she wants.
What Peer Advisory Forums Offer Executive Women
- The opportunity to hone critical thinking and strategic decision making skills
- A community of true peers from non-competing industries who can help each other become better leaders and achieve new professional heights
- A confidential space to discuss the problems, challenges, and opportunities unique to the role of an executive woman
- Perspective on current issues to avoid blind spots, make decisions substantiated from shared experience and knowledge, and the ability to learn from the mistakes and missteps of peers
- A personal advisory board to help face challenges head-on by analyzing situations, setting goals, creating plans, and keeping executive women accountable for implementing them
- Opportunity to network with other high-power executive women in various industries
Gain Insight from Unique and Diverse Perspectives
Women in peer advisory groups exclusively for women leaders understand the unique issues and circumstances that face women in senior leadership. These members sit together as equals to discuss the challenges and opportunities they currently face. Each peer advisory group supports and helps its members effectively solve executive issues. Key to the success of peer advisory groups is the involvement of peers from different industries, as innovation often comes from outside a company’s industry. These advisory group peers bring with them new perspectives that can create more effective problem-solving.
Since members are peers sharing their personal experience, the advice and insight they provide are more relevant and actionable than that of a career coach or other expert without the hands-on knowledge of an executive woman’s specific experience or environment.
Confidential peer advisory forums foster support and trust in their members. Member groups are safe spaces where ideas can be discussed, feedback shared, and plans for resolution brainstormed.
With a peer forum functioning as your personal advisory board, you gain access to real-world insight from women with decades of diverse senior leadership experience across many industries. You receive the opportunity to learn about the mistakes they made along the way and how you can avoid them, and what successful strategies they employed to overcome challenges similar to your own. A peer advisory group for executive women will enhance your competence as a senior leader and help you become a better professional.
Peer Groups Provide A Structure and Facilitate Discussion
The core strengths of a peer advisory group are the broad range of perspectives they provide and the honest feedback from people who have real-world experience. Another major strength of peer advisory groups is the way the meetings are organized.
These groups use a formal structure provided by an expert facilitator. Having a formal structure with an expert facilitator ensures you and the rest of your peers get the most out of your interactions. A facilitator keeps you accountable at each meeting by ensuring you ask and are being asked the right questions to get the core of your senior leadership challenge.
Are You Ready To Join A Peer Advisory Group?
Success in any peer advisory group hinges on your level of honesty. You must be honest about what you put out there – whether it be advice or request for counsel – and take to heart what you receive from your peers with a mentality focused on professional improvement.
Participating in a peer advisory group has many benefits for its members- professionally and personally. You get a chance to become the best leader you can be by being in a like-minded community of individuals who understand where you’re coming from and where you’re going.
If you would like to join a peer advisory group and become a better leader, join EWF International’s Peer Advisory Forums for Women Executives today. The forums will give you access to valuable insight, perspective, and advice from your personal advisory board of executive women peers.