We think it is safe to say that women indeed are a force to be reckoned with when it comes to business. Ellevate Network recently released their 2017 Impact Report, and we found the numbers rather astonishing. The report findings come from a survey of over 800 educated, experienced and successful businesswomen in diverse industries. We believe we are closer than ever to closing the wage gap and achieving gender equality.

As we step into a new year and look into the future, there are a handful of ways we believe women can step up and continue to create the impact needed to move the needle closer to equality.

1. Ask for what you want.

Women have particularly struggled in the area of negotiating raises compared to their male colleagues. The main reason being that men seem to ask for raises more frequently than women. The good news is this. According to Ellevate’s report, their members who did ask for raises, 78% of them got them.

So what is it that is keeping more women from asking for higher wages? According to Payroll.com women were not asking for wages because they felt uncomfortable negotiating. Katie Donavan, the founder of Equal Pay Negotiations, says that “Women may not realize that many companies set aside money with the expectation that employees will ask for better compensation packages… Yet only 30% of women bother to negotiate at all, while 46% of men negotiate.”

In addition to resources and tools, the conversation around negotiating needs to continue in 2018 to include topics that aren’t just about salary but growth opportunities and other perks.

2. Quality mentorship continues to be a necessity

With the majority of survey respondents only having been in business five years or less (56%), the need for quality mentorship is necessary for business growth. To those that have surpassed the ten-year mark, it is time to pass the baton of knowledge by supporting new business owners through mentorship.

Find a local organization that supports women in business and actively search for a mentor if you are new in business. A few organizations that provide mentorship for business owners are SCORE and the Small Business Administration.

3. Set bigger revenue goals.

Women are starting businesses rapidly. According to Grasshopper.com’s 2017 State of Women Business data, business revenues among women-owned firms have increased by 35% since 2007, compared to 27% among all U.S. firms — thus at a rate that is 30% higher than the national average.”

While these numbers are high, Ellevate’s report indicates that these businesses are starting small and unfortunately, staying small with only 3% generating above $500,000 in revenue.

The primary reasons these business owners didn’t see substantial growth were due to operational inefficiencies, marketing and lack of funding coming in last. Delegation, proper operational systems, strategic marketing, and capital to grow are the areas to focus on in 2018 if you’re a small business owner looking to build your company revenue.

4. Advocate for diversity.

Diversity matters and can positively affect the bottom line of businesses that take this seriously. A report done by McKinsey stated that “Companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.”

Creative groups that specifically advocate for diversity and inclusivity are a powerful way to have this conversation and create a space to share stories. Women in the workplace are tired of hearing their companies talk about diversity in the workplace and action not being taken.

According to this Forbes article, other ways to advocate for diversity include continuing to spread the word that diversity increases financial revenue and utilize mentoring within the organization.

5. Get involved in political advocacy.

With only 13% of survey respondents getting involved in local politics as a means to closing the gender gap, there is a lot of room for growth in this area.

Some simple ways to get involved in political advocacy is to know who your local elected officials are, contact your congressional leaders when appropriate, attend town hall meetings, and getting involved in other organizations who are already leading the charge and doing the work in areas that affect women and their success in business. Do your research and start advocating by taking an interest in your local political landscape.

6. Invest in our future female leaders.

Empowering the next generation and supporting companies who do is a simple way that we can begin to invest in our female leaders. Many organizations are finally taking a stance and recognizing a change needs to happen. Following the example of companies like Girls Who Code, Zillow, Salesforce, and Glassdoor, who made an Equal Pay Pledge last year and commitment to stand for equality.

For inspiration and interviews with powerful, female investors check out the She Invests podcast by Hera Labs & Hera Fund founder, Silvia Mah.

Download the full Ellevate Network 2017 Impact Report