This is an open letter to the managers of women regarding gender diversity.
Women make up roughly half of the population, and yet, according to data from the World Economic Forum, remain woefully underrepresented when it comes to occupying positions of leadership. Women make up less than 22% of the world’s parliament members. Female executives make up less than 5.5% of the CEOs at Fortune 1000 corporations. Only 28% of the positions for full-time professors at the world’s top universities are occupied by women as well.
In recent years, leaders such as Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, and Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, have joined a growing chorus of voices calling for greater gender balance and diversity. Still, according to Sandberg, it will take “over 100 years” for female executives to achieve gender parity with men. 2016 is almost over,. When interviewed, men are still more likely to be hired than women, and women are only earning 80 cents for every dollar earned by a man in the same role.
Gender Diversity and Parity Isn’t Just About Social Justice – it’s Good Business Sense
Creating an equal society with greater gender equality and diversity is about more than just fairness and justice. Achieving gender balance is also good business sense. According to a report by Price Waterhouse Cooper, companies with more female executives outperform their counterparts. Organisations with more women on boards and as CEO, see a 53% higher return on equity, a 66% greater return on invested capital and experience 42% higher returns on sales. If companies and other organisations want to increase the bottom line, the facts are clear that they must create more opportunities for women in leadership.
How can companies expect to create services and products that offer value and greater utility, and meet the needs and expectations of women, unless women achieve true gender balance in the boardroom?
How Leaders Can Create Greater Opportunities for Female Executives
While there is some talk of countries in the EU and elsewhere passing legislation to enact quotas, it is doubtful that this one act alone will encourage greater gender balance. In fact, in Norway, which already has such quotas, women in leadership still occupy 0% of CEO positions.
Regardless of your gender, as a manager in your organisation, there are steps that you can take to encourage female executives to enter the leadership pipeline and make it easier for women in leadership to advance to the next level.
Equal Pay for Equal Work
You can show your workforce, clients, and society at large just how much women are valued in your organisation, by offering equal pay for equal work. By setting this example, you show that the opinions, contributions and work performed by women in your business hold the same value as that of men. This step not only boosts morale and engagement, but it also goes a long way towards accomplishing the social justice goal of addressing poverty, as women are the main breadwinner in over half of households worldwide.
Look for and Eliminate Unconscious Bias in Hiring Practices and Promotions
Often, women are overlooked for promotion and held back from advancement simply because of demands in their personal life, such as needs in their families which affect the choices that they later make in their careers.
While few of us like to believe that we are biased, even the most open-minded find that their decisions are influenced by unconscious bias. An example of this is when women are passed over for promotion because others fear that childbearing or other personal choices might impact the woman’s ability to perform certain tasks in their job role.
To create greater gender parity and diversity, we must lead by example, and look for ways to eliminate unconscious bias in our hiring practices.
Offer Greater Flexibility
Simple steps such as offering paid family leave, and flexible scheduling, make it easier for both men and women to be able to achieve greater harmony with their work/life balance. This allows your team to continue to contribute meaningfully to your organisation while also filling caregiving roles in their personal life. It also opens up the opportunity for your team to pursue additional activities that lead to greater personal growth and development and boost morale and creativity.
Offer Training, Coaching, and Mentorship Programs
Possibly the best way to encourage a more significant number of female executives is to provide them more opportunities to develop and practice their leadership skills. Offering additional training and coaching as well as beginning a formal mentorship program to actively recruit and develop women is the only guaranteed way to ensure there are enough women in the leadership pipeline.
The Athena Leadership Academy offers customised programs that are tailored to the needs of your organisation’s top talent. We equip your team to increase performance and become more effective leaders. If you are a manager of women and you are committed to gender diversity and parity, contact us today. We will help you create the specialised training, coaching and mentorship program to build more opportunities for women in leadership in your organisation!