In recent decades, there have been calls for greater gender equality while enhancing the need to close the gender wage gap. Although tremendous strides have been made in this aspect, there is still a fundamental lack of women in leadership roles.
If you take a look at the Fortune 500 list in America, you’ll see that 15% of the CEOs are women. The companies that boast a higher representation of women on their boards outperform the organisations that don’t by a notable degree.
This is further supported by studies that have outlined that have also outlined that companies with greater gender diversity, not just within their workforce but directly among senior leaders, are significantly more profitable than those without.
This clearly demonstrates that the need for more female leaders has never been more critical. When you consider this and the never-ending catalogue of data that supports this claim, it simply doesn’t seem right that there are so few women in leadership.
Organisations have a responsibility to create better policies and opportunities for women. Still, at the same time, women also need support to step forward and overcome the habits holding them back.
With this said, let’s dive into the world of women in the workplace, outlining the need for their presence and mindset and providing ten core reasons why organisations should no longer overlook the prospect of employing more women in leadership roles.
Why is it important to have women in leadership?
A report by McKinsey & Company found that, throughout the UK, greater gender diversity on the senior executive team corresponded to the highest performance uplift in their data set.
For every 10% increase in gender diversity, earnings before interest and taxes rose by a glaring 3.5%. From this data, we can uncover that women leaders have a key measurable impact on an organisation’s bottom line.
When women become leaders, they provide a different set of skills and imaginative perspectives. More importantly, female leaders bring structural and cultural differences to the table, which drive effective solutions. This creative standpoint and unique sense of awareness will also allow them to study and uncover the finer details that may go unmissed by others.
What are the main challenges for female leaders?
As we’ve established, the working landscape is changing, and the business world is no longer just a man’s game. However, competing in this challenging environment is no walk in the park.
From experienced women leaders who have been making strides in this debate for years gone by to the upcoming young talent looking to make a serious impact, women in leadership still face numerous challenges.
Men are still the majority
The first and most obvious challenge is that most of the people in the room are men. However, this creates an opportunity for women to stand out and create a long-lasting impression from the off.
Difficulty in creating supportive networks
A scenario that appears time and time again revolves around building a supportive network in a space where males dominate. Use this chance to seek both men and women as connections and mentors who will help you along your career path.
Balance work and family aren’t easy
In the working world, women do not only deal with the stress of a full-time job, but they’re often also responsible for raising families. At times, it may seem impossible to juggle your work and personal life, but if the pandemic has taught us anything, it is the importance of creating a healthy work-life balance.
Expectations of women are often lower
The sad nature for a lot of women is that expectations can often be set lower. The trick is not to see this in poor light but to change your vision and realise it’s easier to exceed your goals and showcase why you shouldn’t be overlooked.
Women are characterised as emotional
Unfortunately, we as women are often perceived as being more emotional and less decisive than men, yet women bring more diverse physical, mental and emotional experiences to everyday conversations. Use this to your advantage by bringing a fresh perspective to the table.
In today’s world, women may not always realise their potential, and once unleashed, they have a direct route to success. When they find themselves in a leadership role, their capability and abilities are undeniable. However, it’s simple to claim this, so that establishes the need to outline multiple benefits women can bring to leadership roles.
1. Women leaders will paint the future
It can be daunting for women who have not yet been in a position of leadership to take on such a high-profile role due to the stigmas attached to it. This could push away the younger generation from striving to break down barriers.
In 2019, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29%. This remained constant in 2020 and grew to 31% in 2021, the highest number ever recorded. While this can be considered positive news, women just entering the workforce will need to be inspired by other women who are currently smashing their roles as a leader in the workplace. Once achieved, it can carve a direction for all young aspiring women leaders to increase the global percentage and break new records.
2. Unique transformational ideas will be brought to the front
A meta-analysis comparing male and female leaders identified female leaders were more transformational. They demonstrated more contingent reward behaviour than the two-dimensional actions (active and passive management) presented by male leadership.
This transformational leadership style has been shown to build social and personal identification amongst members and also build the mission and goals set out by leadership and organisations. This demonstrates a clear positive influence on the success of an organisation and its employees.
3. The enhancement of teamwork
There is no doubt that we’ve all seen women demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and a capability to take command of a situation when need be (let’s not look further than our own mothers or female caregivers in this instance).
Women are able to make bold and wise decisions as leaders; this helps make the team environment less authoritative and more cooperative, bringing a family-like feel to the team. This boosts teamwork across the organisation and helps implement a new culture within the business.
4. Women demonstrate superior leadership values
A national survey by the Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends survey ranked 2,250 adult women better than or equal to men in seven of the eight primary leadership traits assessed throughout the survey.
The key statistics from this survey outline that half of the respondents ranked women as more honest than men, with 20% saying that men are more honest than women. In terms of intelligence, 38% said they viewed women as smarter, with only 14% indicating men are smarter. For the other cases, women were ranked as being more compassionate, outgoing and creative.
5. Business-wide communication can be enhanced
Communication is said and known to be among a woman’s strongest skills. Female leaders will utilise this power to enhance meaningful conversations with employers, co-workers and partners, thus creating an open communication stream that creates a sense of clarity.
6. Achieve a better financial outcome
Within a more diverse workplace, it’s likely that more creative ideas will be presented. This helps fuel growth and create more sustainability within an organisation. Diversity in the workplace should not just prioritise women but, instead, have a fluid combination of both genders throughout the organisation.
Workplace gender diversity helps increase productivity, and creativity, improves performance and staff retention, and, as established, boosts collaboration throughout the business. In a workplace study, 21% of businesses are more likely to experience above-average profitability if the workforce is gender-diverse.
7. Fresh new outlooks and perspectives
We have outlined the need to construct a diverse workforce, and with this will come new experiences and perspectives that ultimately contribute to bringing some much-needed innovation into the business.
Women leaders will bring skills, different perspectives, and innovative ideas to the table, but these three combined will help create innovative perspectives that lead to better decision-making as a whole for the business.
8. Women leaders can provide better mentorship
Especially for the younger generation, the power of role models cannot be overlooked. Regardless of a person’s gender, all people need someone who will guide them to progress in their careers. Women can harness their talents in this area because, specifically, for mentoring and coaching young talent, women leaders are better mentors than men.
According to a study, 29% of women believe that their gender will be an obstacle to advancement. To overcome this obstacle, women in leadership positions can take this opportunity and begin empowering the bright young minds of the next generation.
9. The ability to wear many hats
In a women’s life, wearing different hats within their roles is a common occurrence. You can often find them balancing careers, households and taking up the mantel of parental guidance along with many other experiences. These help women leaders to quickly adjust to new situations and focus on finding solutions to real-life work issues.
10. Women in leadership roles can close the gender pay gap
Something that can often be overlooked is that the gender pay gap can be transformed into a gender opportunity gap. It has been seen that when males and females start their progress from scratch, men are usually offered more opportunities leading to higher-paying positions.
However, employing more women in leadership roles can not only provide the benefits we’ve listed already but, instead, help achieve a wider goal and close the pay gap more effectively.
Women in leadership: ignite your impact
Research has found that the global share of women in senior management roles is increasing incrementally, with 90% of global companies having at least one woman in a senior management role in 2021. However, it will still be 170 years until women achieve economic parity on a global scale, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.
Capucine explored women’s most common limiting habits taken from her coaching and facilitation experience while sharing practical tools on how women can tackle those challenges head-on, focusing on three recurring themes:
- Growth mindset
If you are a woman already in a leadership role or simply aspiring to elevate your career to reach the heights you aspire to, this practical webinar addressed the challenges touched on throughout this blog and will help you to ignite your own impact as a woman.
To watch this free HR Expert webinar, click here.