The “never-ending support system” for female executives

The “never-ending support system” for female executives
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Advocates for women in business got some good news when Fortune 500 included a record 24 female CEOs in its 2014 list, the highest number since the list began including executives’ gender in 1998.

The bad news: that number still represents less than five percent of total Fortune 500 CEOs. Other issues, such as a pay gap and questions about double standards for female business leaders, still persist. In industries like tech, women are even more under-represented—not one female tech CEO made the list last year.

Although women have made strides into the boardrooms of companies in the US and across the world, there’s still work to be done. Providing executives with vision, tools, and in particular connecting them to a global network of like-minded leaders, is one way to start closing the gap.

Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program (AMP), is an eight-week program held at the School’s campus in Boston, MA. The program accelerates the growth of proven business leaders into true global executives, bringing together carefully orchestrated curriculum, world-class HBS faculty, guest speakers, and dynamic peer-to-peer interactions for an experience described by program alumni as transformational.

 The immersive program facilitates participant collaboration both in and outside of the classroom with more than 165 industry peers from over 40 countries, making connections that extend beyond the campus walls.

This kind of bonding is imperative for women, particularly because—as Harvard Business Review research shows—a big reason women trail behind their male counterparts in leadership is the lack of a strong network.

“For women, I think it is incredibly important to take a chance, to step outside your comfort zone for a while,” said Julie Dill, Spectra Energy Chief Communications Officer, of AMP.

Adds Ann MacGregor, CEO of Macston, LLC: “It’s a never-ending support system that you don’t have in other situations. So, it’s well worth the time to take that step.”

To see female CEOs rise above five percent concerted work needs to be done. A program that offers greater access to education for executives, leadership training, and, in particular, encourages the formation of a global network of peers can assist in leveling the playing field for women in business.

This article was produced by Harvard Business School and not by the Quartz editorial staff.