Why is it that some of the leading organizations in the world have made diversity and inclusion a priority? Gender diversity has become a focus area for businesses and women leaders have been setting examples across the globe. For long, women have struggled to climb the corporate ladder and they continue to do so. We often blame the ‘glass ceiling’ that keeps women from top positions but it’s actually a ‘broken rung’.
Mckinsey & Company, a leading management consulting company, released a report titled Women in the Workplace, which suggests that women professionals struggle to step up from entry-level positions to managerial positions because of the broken rung. It prevents them from utilizing their strengths and leadership qualities. The need for developing women leaders is as important as creating an environment that’ll help them grow and feel empowered.
Developing Women Leaders: The Rising Importance
The year 2019-20 was a great year for women in senior management positions as their numbers grew to 29% globally—the highest ever recorded. However, it’s a long way to go before businesses achieve gender parity. Women face challenges to attain promotions and roles that will place them in leadership positions. Several bodies of research suggest that women view work more holistically and have a different approach to professional growth. Women prioritize knowledge sharing and collaboration, making them suitable for leadership positions.
Let’s look at several other reasons that highlight the importance of women’s leadership in the business world.
They’re Strong Communicators
Communication is one of the top foundational skills exhibited by women. A majority of them know how to communicate openly, clearly and regularly. Women as a leader will flourish because effective communication and strong interpersonal skills are essential leadership qualities.
They’re Highly Motivated
Women often show resilience in the face of challenges. They’re often motivated by challenges and respond to simultaneous problems successfully. They want to accomplish things and don’t easily take ‘no’ for an answer. Creative problem-solving is the mark of a true leader.
They Prioritize Teamwork
Several studies suggest that women in the workplace display high levels of emotional intelligence. They make bold and wise decisions when it comes to navigating conflicts and encouraging teamwork. They make the environment less authoritative and more cooperative.
They Value Work-Life Balance
A majority of women wear many hats—both at the workplace as well as at home. It’s easier to approach women leaders with personal requests and sensitive information because they consider your point of view.
They Defy Odds
It isn’t easy to establish yourself in a male-dominated world. Women leaders defy all odds to climb the organizational hierarchy. They’re able to navigate tricky situations with grace and perform well under pressure.
Women In Corporate Leadership: The Business Advantage
Women in leadership roles are more efficient in negotiating and making deals. Organizations benefit from women’s leadership to a great extent. Here are a few ways in which your business can benefit from the leadership skills of women.
They Drive Effective Solutions
Organizations with greater diversity also invite diverse perspectives, thoughts and creative solutions. Structural and cultural differences can drive effective solutions as women look at problems from different angles. This further encourages out-of-the-box thinking.
They Lead To Greater Financial Outcomes
Data suggests that workplaces with a diverse pool of employees are likely to generate higher profitability. Diverse experiences and perspectives bring innovation, fueling business growth. There is increased productivity, efficiency and awareness when people from different walks of life engage and work towards common objectives.
They’re Instrumental In Closing The Gender Gap
Despite years of progress, the gender pay gap continues to exist in organizations. Women’s leadership is instrumental in achieving pay parity. When more women leaders have high-paying positions, it’s easier to bridge the wage gap.
Today, women are playing a vital role in the economy’s growth. Let’s look at this list of the most successful women entrepreneurs and leaders in India who have made a significant impact in the startup ecosystem.
The founder of Vandana Luthra Curls and Curves (VLCC) is not only a successful business leader but also a philanthropist. In 2013, she received the prestigious Padma Shree award for her contribution and services.
The co-founder of ZoloStays, Choudhry created India’s one-of-its-kind co-living space. It has hundreds of employees across five different cities and it helps students and working professionals find pocket-friendly accommodation.
The co-founder of ImpactGuru, Jain played an active role in changing India’s crowdfunding startup scenario. Her contribution is widely acknowledged and she even featured in the Fortune 40 under 40 list in India.
Women And Leadership: Ways To Bridge The Gap
Hewlett-Packard, one of the leading computer manufacturers in the world, conducted a study where they looked at internal hiring practices. They found that women apply for jobs only when they meet 100% of the qualifications (as stated in the job description). Many women are hesitant to explore new opportunities because they’re afraid that unless they meet the exact criteria, they won’t be considered. Businesses need to actively work towards promoting women in leadership roles and empower more mentors and role models. There are several ways in which organizations can effectively promote women’s leadership.
The first step towards gender empowerment is revising your hiring practices. The Global Gender Gap Report (2017) published by the World Economic Forum suggests that women represent less than 50% of leaders in every industry they analyzed. When you hire women in leadership roles, you encourage others to enter the workforce by providing opportunities in mentorship and career advancement. Here are a few things that you can be mindful about:
Source a gender diverse pipeline of candidates and use gender-inclusive marketing tactics that help you reach out to potential women applicants
Pay attention to your job descriptions—ensure that you use gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language
Identify learnings from exit interviews and use the information to make the necessary changes and reduce turnover rates for women employees
Increasing the number of women in your talent pool is only half the work done. You need to build an inclusive environment that helps women grow and build confidence. Training programs are an effective way to encourage learning and development while helping them acquire the necessary skill set to advance in their careers. It even helps women identify and overcome personal limitations as they actively work towards professional growth.
Strict And Effective Policies
Workplace atmosphere is of utmost importance if you want to promote women’s leadership. Everyone should actively call out gender biases and take strict actions against them. Flexible practices and policies for women professionals are a norm in several organizations. Many of them offer work from home, part-time positions and job protection for pregnant employees.
However, the ground reality is that organizational diversity initiatives can’t happen overnight. You need to consciously set goals and targets to increase the likelihood of success. For example, having a specific cohort of female leaders as a target is measurable and achievable, with concerted efforts. Additionally, be transparent about your policies and get everyone on board with your decisions. Visibility is critical and publishing reports and achievements will build your credibility.
It’s an undeniable reality that women professionals face a unique set of challenges at work. If you want to create a truly inclusive workplace, you need to demonstrate women’s leadership as a business priority. Create a safe space where everyone feels heard, valued and respected. Don’t just commit to diversity and inclusion but act on your words and policies.
However, it’s also important to remember that not all women have the same leadership styles. Even leadership qualities such as emotional attunement, humility and self-awareness are unique for every individual. If you want to consider multiple perspectives, gauge what women professionals in your organization need and expect. Constant feedback is a fruitful way of developing strategies and revising your policies.
Harappa’s Women Leadership Program will help you achieve transformative outcomes from women leaders. It pivots around maximizing individual performance, communicating with power and trusting one’s voice. Carefully curated and application-oriented concepts such as organizational behavior, personal leadership, creative thinking and communication practices will help women learners overcome barriers and raise the bar in workplace settings.
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