There is still great inequality between women and men in business, in representation, leadership positions and salary rates. According to the International Business Report (Grant Thornton) in 2017, 34% of companies have no women in their senior leadership teams, and the proportion of women in senior leadership roles was 25% – just a 1% increase since 2016, and only a 6% rise in 13 years.
Given that around 51% of the population is female, it’s vital to redress this imbalance and to provide positive role models for young women – and men – to look up to. Whilst cultural and societal issues may be to blame, individually and collectively, we have a responsibility to encourage women to be leaders in the business world.
Traditional female ‘modesty’ or fear of being perceived as ‘pushy’ could prevent women stepping into their power. Jessica Tarlov, Senior Director of Research at Bustle Digital and a Fox Contributor, says, “If you don’t ask for something, you’ll never get it. All too often, women don’t advocate for themselves – and certainly not as passionately as men do. Know your worth and ask for it.”
40% of Americans say there are double standards for women attempting to rise in the corporate world, and women are obliged to work harder and do more than men, to prove themselves.According to Pew research Center, 43% of people interviewed stated that women are held to higher standards than men.
The glass ceiling still exists, but is being broken, gradually. According to The Rockefeller Foundation’s Women in Leadership: Why it Matters (2016), women benefit businesses. Women leaders help in reducing the pay gap, in attracting a diverse workforce, and they positively change workplace policies for all. Diverse workforces also improve profitability and performance.
Alicia Hatch, Chief Marketing Officer of Deloitte Digital says, “Women need to support other women, to champion them and push to make their accomplishments seen and heard.”
We need to create a society where women can succeed and are encouraged into leadership roles.
5 ways to encourage women’s leadership
We need education systems that encourage and educate females highly. It’s vital that we encourage more girls to develop careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), because these areas provide prestigious jobs offering quick promotion and career progression.
We need to make sure that girls know they are capable of anything. We must also ensure that men and boys get the message, too.
We must ensure that women develop skills for success early in their careers – skills like public speaking, assertiveness, negotiation and effective networking. Awareness of global issues and wide experience also challenge thinking and encourage problem-solving beyond people’s comfort zones.
Public & Corporate Policy
Public policy and investment should encourage women to succeed. Companies need to proactively recruit, support, invest in, celebrate, promote and reward women.Diversity gives businesses a competitive advantage, enabling them to be stronger, more profitable and more successful.
Mentoring helps to develop any career. Inspirational and experienced mentors, colleagues and managers, have invaluable knowledge, skills and advice to give women. Goals are more achievable also with support from someone who has ‘been there’.
It is important to publicly acknowledge, promote and celebrate women leaders and their work in the world. Female role models inspire women to aspire to leadership positions, and to achieve also great things. Women have played vital roles in developing economies and societies. The more women are seen as leaders, the more everyone recognises this as normal.
We need to support female entrepreneurship and to grow also new female leaders. Lip service is no good. Vernā Myers says: “Diversity is being invited to the party. Inclusion is being asked to dance.”
Women have a great deal to offer, not simply through their intelligence, experience, and skills. The business world could also greatly benefit from a stereotypical ‘woman’s touch’ – more empathy, community spirit, caring, networking and collaboration. It is inaccurate to call this ‘feminisation’, because men, too, can display these gentler qualities – but we need a step-change from the cut-throat world of business competition and corporate greed: a ‘kinder’ form of business.