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Need A Source? International Women's Week 2006

Only 14.4 per cent of women held senior officer positions in 2004, according to a Catalyst study.   Another Catalyst study revealed that companies who had a higher representation of women at executive levels were found to perform better financially, demonstrating that gender diversity is sound business strategy.

As International Women's Week is being celebrated around the world this week, here are some tips for women on what they can do to advance their careers and ensure our workplaces better mirror the communities in which we do business.

1.       Set long-term career goals that go beyond the immediate 12 months.  A three-year timeframe will allow you to develop your skills and demonstrate your abilities versus just setting your sights on the next job.

2.       Research potential organizations.  Get to know a company's culture, its challenges and its opportunities before you join. Research its values – look out for cultural biases or how women are perceived.

3.       Take initiative and some risks.  Taking initiative is critical to getting ahead - it is where you express your originality and your vision, as well as your strength.  ‘Stretch' assignments can be frightening but they can also be defining moments in your career.

4.       Seek out volunteer opportunities.  If you can balance the time commitments, they can be very beneficial to professional development.  They can increase confidence and sense of self, and often make talents and capabilities more visible to employers. In many cases, in volunteer roles you can get to do things you may never have the chance to do in a job.

BMO's Rose Patten and April Taggart are available as sources for stories on women's advancement.

Rose Patten is Senior Executive Vice President, Human Resources and Strategic Management at BMO Financial Group and has spent her career in the four financial services sectors (banking, trust, insurance and investment banking). April Taggart is Senior Vice President, Talent Management and Diversity at BMO Financial Group with the mandate to attract, engage and retain a talented and diverse workforce

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