Women In Fashion: How To Get That Executive Position

Survival Guide - How High-Potential Women Can Overcome Three Key Hurdles between Them and Top Jobs

Women still face challenges in the workplace today in the area of top executive placements. Nowhere is this fact more evident than in the fashion industry. Even though females comprise almost three-quarters of the workers in the fashion industry, they have attained less than one-fourth of the leadership roles within the top fashion companies according to recent reports. BoF consulted with five top female leaders in the fashion industry, namely Angel Missoni, Tory Burch, Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, Balbina Wong and Alison Loehis to discover how women can increase their numbers in leadership roles and still keep a balance in their personal lives.

Through the information collected, we learned that there are three main hurdles standing in the way of women:

  • Self-Promotion
  • Negotiating Salaries and Conveying Ambition
  • Attaining a Satisfying Balance Between Work and Personal Life

How to Jump Over the Self-Promotion Hurdle

Designer and chief executive, Tory Burch, has learned that when women go beyond their comfort zone and take risks that they grow to a greater extent in the workplace. According to her, women should not avoid major assignments or projects that tap into their ever-evolving skills. By participating in these challenges, women develop a deeper level of confidence. Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud, a chief executive with Alfa International, knows through her experience that it benefits women to set personal goals and focus on measurable strengths instead of comparing themselves to others. A chief executive with ImagineX, Balbina Wong, states, “I would advise women not to fixate on gender, not to compete on gender but compete on capability."

How to Negotiate Salaries and Convey Ambition

How can women improve their efforts with negotiating salaries and obtaining promotions? To start with, Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud states, "Women should have no shame in asking for what they deserve, and know that doing so doesn't reduce their femininity, nor does it make them 'difficult' individuals." She also explains that women should only ask for recognition when they are willing to work diligently to deliver results, as it is a two-way proposition.

President of Net-a-Porter, Alison Loehis, feels that women should examine what they contribute to the company daily and completely understand their value in the marketplace. They need to lobby for any promotions they feel qualified for at their companies or other places of business.

How to Attain and Keep a Satisfying Balance Between Work and Personal Life

Women still have the role of taking care of the children and housework today, even when they are married and work full time. Can women find a balance between work and personal life to fulfill all their roles in an adequate manner? The creative director with Missoni, Angela Missoni states, "The balance of responsibilities should be found by the couple itself — at a private level, through redesigning the mutual rules, times and spaces to incorporate the family."

Princess Reema Bandar Al-Saud feels that effective time management also is part of the answer to attaining the ideal balance. She thinks women should recognize what they can and cannot do without feeling guilty. Tony Burch sets her boys as priority no matter what else is happening in her life, but admits there are times when it is difficult to find a satisfying balance.

If you are one of the women on the workforce frontline today vying for executive placements in companies, consider using this guide to accomplish your career goals.


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Photo: BoF