By Amy Franko

In the landscape of women in leadership, the usual statistics look at the number of women in the overall workforce (over 50%), and compare that figure to the number of women in mid-level and senior leadership, corporate board service, and the CEO suite.

A recent article and statistic grabbed my attention:

In Fortune 500 companies, only about 1 in 10 women hold P&L jobs.

That puts a lot of things in perspective when compared to the small percentage of women who serve on the boards or as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (about 14% and 4% respectively).  Line-of-business roles with P&L responsibility tend to be the primary paths to board service and the CEO suite. Most women leaders are in staff-related, non-line roles.

To increase the number of women serving on boards of publicly traded companies or as Fortune 500 CEOs, it makes perfect sense to build a pipeline of emerging women leaders with P&L experience.

Here are some practical ways, as an emerging leader, that you can gather P&L experience prior to having that responsibility in an actual line of business role:

  • Get into a sales role, and preferably one with direct quota responsibility.  I was fortunate enough to get into sales early in my career, with direct responsibility for a $10-12 million territory.  It was a mini P&L in many respects.  I was responsible for overall strategy, customer and product mix, and business development of the territory, and my performance metrics were tied to the revenue and profit I achieved.
  • Shadow someone with P&L responsibility.  Spend time with a leader who is responsible for a line of business and its P&L.  Learn as much as you can about how that line of business operates.  You might even request a stretch assignment to spend more time in that line of business.
  • Spend time with the finance department.  Find someone in finance to walk you through a P&L statement.  Learn the terminology, what makes the organization tick financially, and about the opportunities and risk points.
  • Take a class. Look for formal learning opportunities as well.  One great resource is Coursera, a company that partners with world-class universities to deliver online courses on a variety of topics (including finance), completely free.

Visit http://amyfranko.com for more information about custom training solutions and professional development services offered by Impact Instruction Group.  Amy Franko works with emerging women leaders, teaching concepts from the international best-sellers Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and See Jane Lead to many national companies and organizations.

© 2013 Impact Instruction Group

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