How To

How to hire—and retain—the next generation of great female executives

Culture and work flexibility helps, but it takes effort too

Smiling businesswoman in meeting in conference room

Naomi Titleman, vice-president of human resources at American Express Canada, where 52% of the senior leadership team are women, explains the steps her company takes to recruit and advance women up the corporate ladder:

1. Go big on flexible work options

“We’re in an era where productivity and results are more important than face time. Obviously, some roles require time in the office, but we believe that if you offer flexibility, women will feel more engaged and empowered. We have people on our team who leave the office early knowing their work has to get done at some point. And it does.”

2. Bring senior leadership to the table

“We’ve got a women’s interests network, and we bring it together for a biannual conference with senior leadership globally. They raise various ideas that often then get rolled out across the organization.”

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3. Put your mentorship program on steroids

“We have various programs and channels for mentorship, but what we find especially effective is our sponsorship policy—it’s like mentorship on steroids. A senior leader will choose to sponsor a more junior employee who shows high potential and guide them through important moves in her career. Sponsors open doors for talent, make connections on their behalf and put them forward for top assignments. These are the people who will really pound on the table and advocate for you.”

4. Go public

“We make sure our successful female leaders are out there speaking, talking about how we’ve made it work at American Express. They act as key role models, so junior women can look up to them and say, ‘That’s what we want to be.’”