Before we proceed with the reasons, let us take a moment to count the number of women in leadership roles in our own circle. I know about two of them. If you don’t have a solid list either, it is because there aren’t many.
The workforce might have adopted gender-neutral and inclusive practices, but women in leadership roles is still a rare sight.
It’s no secret that women have historically faced greater barriers than men. Especially when it comes to fully participating in the economy. There have been disparities in the form of pay gaps, access to equal opportunities, and inclusion of women in decision-making.
The need for more female leaders has never been more critical. And there is a never-ending catalogue of data to support this claim. Women CEOs only make up 8% of the Fortune 500 companies in America and India. And worldwide, only about 10% of CEOs are women.
So, what exactly are the obstacles women have to fight before making it to the top?
- Women have the pressure to raise children along with managing a full-time job. And more often than not, they tend to choose the former task. The pandemic alone has caused about 35% of women to leave or lose their jobs. This was just so that they can cater to their family’s needs.
- Another obvious challenge is that most of the people in an office setup are men. So naturally, women are uncomfortable speaking up in such workplaces. The archaic conditioning of not trying to lead in a room full of men doesn’t help either.
- Women can often be perceived as more emotional and less decisive than men. And this train of thought crushes even the slightest belief women have on themselves to lead teams and companies.
Studies have shown that companies with greater gender diversity – not just within their workforce but directly among senior leaders – are significantly more profitable than those without. So it is high time workplaces made women in leadership a priority.
6 reasons to include more women in leadership positions
1. Women bring in better leadership and mentoring styles
While every leader’s style is unique, women are more likely to display qualities needed by modern leaders. This includes skills such as self-awareness, emotional attunement, humility, and authenticity.
Thomas Chamorro-Premuzic and Cindy Gallop of Harvard Business Review suggest that:
“Instead of encouraging women to act like male leaders, we should be asking men in power to adopt some of the more effective leadership behaviours more commonly found in women”.
Women tend to put others first, display humility, and perform an authoritative role with an empathetic approach. These traits aren’t commonly associated with men’s leadership styles.
A recent Girls in Tech study found that women with male bosses felt more burnt out during the pandemic. This was in contrary to women with female bosses. 85% of people reported burnout in companies with male CEOs, as opposed to 15% in organisations with female CEOs.
2. Women improve and enhance business communication
Research shows that men and women are more likely to exhibit different styles of verbal communication.
Men are more prone to adopt what is called ‘report talk’, while women gravitate more toward ‘rapport talk’.
Communication is known to be one of the strongest skills a woman has. Because she displays a more warm body language cue.
Female leaders utilise this power to enhance meaningful conversations with employers, coworkers, and business partners. This makes them feel involved and appreciated, thus ensuring a positive work culture.
It also creates an open communication stream that brings in a sense of clarity.
3. Having them at the top enables stronger financial outcomes
We don’t know about the whole ‘Ghar ki Lakshmi’ thing but women surely are great assets for a company’s financial outcomes. It makes business sense to promote more women into leadership roles because a study says that gender-diverse companies have had better financial outcomes than those dominated by one gender.
Different perspectives, knowledge, and insights allow male and female teams to solve problems more effectively. Over the years, venture capital firms that increased the proportion of female partner hires by 10% saw, on average, a 1.5% spike in overall fund returns each year and had 9.7% more profitable exits.
This proves that women in leadership indeed bring tangible financial benefits to organisations.
4. We need more women role models that other women can look up to
The lack of women in management positions means that there is a lack of role models for other women employees who aspire to take on leadership roles in the future.
Currently, since there are fewer women in leadership roles, women employees of most companies tend to gravitate towards their male bosses for important decisions instead of going to a woman in a legitimately important position within the company.
This is primarily because women themselves are so used to having male bosses, that most of them find it difficult to accept a woman being their boss.
Women are brainwashed to never compete for positions held by men since eternity, so to see a woman on top and ruling has become such a rare sight that even women employees of the company have not really learned how to shift from a male boss to a female boss.
The more we hire or promote women to leadership roles, the more young women will be able to visualise themselves in similar roles.
5. Women in leadership can close gender pay gaps
It’s no surprise that men in leadership positions (and otherwise) get paid more than women in the same position, even if both start in a company from scratch. The gender pay gap exists because of the gender opportunity gap. It all starts with not giving exposure and chances in equal measure to women.
However, employing more women in leadership roles can not only provide opportunities for women to excel but also help achieve the wider goal of closing the gender pay gap more effectively.
Companies like Nestle, Facebook, Unilever, and Bumble are looking to rope in more women employees every year and promote them to leadership positions, purely based on their merit.
6. Women leaders bring fresh perspectives to the table
Imagine the number of fresh ideas and opinions you will miss out on if you keep women out of the boardroom or stop hiring more women in the workforce.
Women leaders bring skills, different perspectives, and innovative ideas to the table, and these three combined can help create new perspectives that lead to better decision-making as a whole for the business.
Companies can do so much more than patting themselves on the back for recruiting a certain percentage of women in the workplace or drafting women-friendly policies. Women should be counselled into realising that they’re fit for every kind of job that exists in the market, irrespective of their sex.
The need of the hour is to give women their fair due and equal right to a professional opportunity.
It is also important that companies start coaching women for leadership roles like team leads, department heads, divisional presidents, and executive board, purely on the basis of their potential and not just their past performance or the number of maternity breaks they have taken. And that is exactly when we’ll make progress as a society.
If you’re a woman in a leadership position reading this, we hope you take pride in your journey. And if you’re an ambitious woman, striving hard to reach the top, we hope this article inspires you!
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