A letter from the Authors

QUEST is delighted to announce the launch of the special research report,

MAKE IT HAPPEN: How Women Leaders Unleash Their Strengths


Lauren Noël & Christie Hunter Arscott

We study early career women – the topics that matter to them, their impressions of the workplace, their aspirations, and the successes and obstacles they face while trying to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives. To date, most research and talent strategies have focused on women at the senior leadership, executive, or board level but we believe that is too late. Research shows that companies have a promising opportunity to capture by focusing on women at early career stages. Our work and research have reaffirmed our fundamental belief that early interventions can alter the shape of the female talent pipeline. It is this shift, with its increased focus on early career women, that has the potential to improve the gender balance in our organizations, industries, and communities.

Our specialization in qualitative and applied research has allowed us to amplify women's voices and bring the richness of their stories to life. Our work has been informed by studying and working with thousands of women around the world. Our research, Taking Charge, drew from interviews with more than 60 women executives globally and provided a roadmap for high potential women who have their eyes set on reaching the highest levels of organizations. Our study, What Executives Need to Know about Millennial Women, identified five key themes that early career women value; themes that organizations can focus on to ensure they are attracting, advancing, and retaining female stars. These works have laid the foundation for this piece of research: "Make It Happen: How Women Leaders Unleash Their Strengths."

Our prior research and our ongoing interactions and conversations have provided us with as many questions as solutions. What we have found is that the next generation of women leaders are demanding a deeper level of visibility; visibility that transcends professional images of women and their biographies. When asked what they wanted to know most about women executives, early career women responded: "We want to get to know the woman behind the bio." Beyond visibility 'of' the person, the next generation of women leaders are calling for visibility 'into' the person. They want to understand the human behind the work, behind the accolades, behind the professional headshot and profile. When looking for inspiration, they see where women are now without understanding their journeys, including the tradeoffs, tough choices, disappointments, and adversities they had to overcome.

Early career women understand that building a career and life they love (and thrive in) is no small feat. Instead, they find they are navigating a labyrinth of obstacles, twists, turns, and often dead ends. They desire to learn from the stories of triumph, defeat, and resilience of those who have gone before them as they chart their own paths and navigate the ups and downs of their own career journeys. We thank the amazing women leaders featured in this report for their transparency, empathy, and vulnerability. Thank you for providing us with a deeper level of visibility into your journey and the inspiration to craft our own.

Read more about Lauren Noël & Christie Hunter Arscott

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