Women make up nearly 50 percent of the U.S. labor force, but they account for just 25 percent of executive and senior level positions at S&P 500 companies, according to the Center for American Progress. That percentage is even smaller when you look at board seats and CEO positions, of which women hold just 20 percent and six percent, respectively.
One leader who is encouraging companies to not only hire women, but promote them is Williams-Sonoma CEO Laura Alber. Having worked her way up the company's ranks from an entry-level position to CEO, Alber says she's aware of her influence as one of the few female leaders in her industry.
"I think there's not enough role models of women, different types of women, in senior jobs," she tells CNBC. "I think that's what we really need to change, and something that drives me every day. It's one of the reasons why I've really stuck with it because I realize it's bigger than just me in this job. I can inspire young women and show them that you can be in this job not just for a short period of time, but for a long period of time."