Do we need more female leaders in today’s world? That’s a definite yes! The big question is, how do we get that done? Here, we will discuss how to develop more female leaders.
Melinda Gates, Shonda Rhimes, Susan Wojcicki – any of these names ring a bell?
While these personalities may come from different backgrounds and industries, they have one thing in common.
They are all terrific women in leadership.
Many organizations are now more intentional in developing female leaders.
Though there’s criticism that some companies are only promoting women just to meet a quota, gender diversity is the key to any organization’s success.
In fact, organizations with more gender diversity are more productive.
They come up with more innovations and produce better products and services.
According to a report by Morgan Stanley, companies that score better in terms of gender diversity metrics earn more profit.
Because they have higher employee satisfaction and retention.
And we all know that happy employees make for bigger and better companies.
If women are much needed and welcome in the corporate setting, why then, are there not enough women in leadership roles?
Here are 5 problems faced by women.
5 Barriers To Female Leadership
One reason why companies are having a hard time knowing how to develop female leaders is because of unequal treatment to their female workforce.
Even in these modern times, women are being paid significantly less and given fewer benefits in different industries.
This unequal treatment sometimes results in women staying where they are to avoid being given more responsibilities since they won’t be acknowledged for it anyway.
No Confidence To Speak Up
Because of the unspoken gender bias in companies, many women sometimes have no confidence to speak up.
Women are left to keep their opinions and ideas to themselves because they might not feel secure in the workplace.
Another barrier is that women are generally underpaid compared to their male counterparts.
Even in Hollywood, female celebrities are offered much less money than their male co-stars for challenging roles.
The pay gap doesn’t just hit a woman’s confidence, but it’s also an insult on their capabilities.
Because of this, many women might not feel it’s worth it to step out of their comfort zone to do more for their organization.
The ‘Imposter Syndrome’
The imposter syndrome is one of the most difficult problems faced by women.
It’s when women, who are very much capable of doing their jobs, give into toxic self-talk that makes them doubt if they belong in positions of leadership.
It may sound like something that the self-help gurus over at Oprah’s came up with.
But, it’s actually one of the most common complexities affecting many female leaders today.
Being Paralyzed By The Need To Be Perfect
Whether you’re a man or a woman, the idea of being perfect is one of the most difficult challenges leaders face.
But for women, it can be paralyzing since they have to live under the constant stress to perform better in order to get the recognition they deserve.
They constantly strive to be perfect at the expense of healthy relationships and their own sanity.
Therefore making it harder for them to develop their potentials as female leaders to the best of their abilities.
The lack of female leadership in many industries, especially in tech, is one of the most glaring problems that top management needs to address.
Many companies are being criticized for not having enough women in executive positions.
Fortunately, big names like Google, Facebook, and Apple have committed to developing more women in leadership roles.
Here are just a few of the reasons why it’s crucial for companies to have or develop more female leaders.
Women In Leadership: Why It Should Happen
Fair Corporate Policy
In general, companies that have more female representation have a better corporate policy.
Even though all positions should be available to all individuals regardless of their individual characteristics like religion, race, and gender, there are still companies that still prefer to promote men to top positions.
When companies encourage or develop women to take on leadership roles, they’re telling the whole world that they recognize the crucial role that female leaders play in their organization.
They’re willing to exert effort to help them develop their career paths.
One of the pressing challenges leaders face is making sound decisions that will benefit the whole organization.
When you let women into that space, it allows for a wider point of view that will help you see the problem from all angles.
Women leaders provide a voice in the organization that prevents the executive team from falling into ‘groupthink’.
Groupthink is an environment where the involved individuals share similar backgrounds, viewpoints, and experiences, leading to poor decisions that can’t be executed well.
Improved Corporate Responsibility
In recent years, we have seen more and more companies invest in corporate social responsibility projects.
Because apart from upholding goodness in the ruthless world of business, it’s also a foolproof way to add to the bottom line.
According to a study, companies with a diverse executive team are more intentional in contributing to charitable causes than companies mainly dominated by male leadership.
Organizations that develop female leaders commit themselves to contribute positively to global impact.
They’re also able to bring in more money to the company.
Higher Pay Across The Board
When there are more women at the top ranks of the organization, there is also a much narrow pay gap across the board.
How do women leaders ensure that everyone in the company gets paid well?
When there’s more diversity, more people have more opportunities to grow and develop their skills.
This increases productivity. It then translates to better profit.
Better HR Policies
By having more female leaders at the top, your organization develops a more common outlook to management.
This leads to more favorable HR policies that put employees’ benefit ahead of corporate gain.
In fact, organizations with women leaders are significantly less likely to lose workers than male-dominated companies.
If you’re wondering how to increase female leadership in your company, know that it will take the efforts of everyone to adopt a gender inclusive culture within your organization.
While it’s easy to stress the importance of gender equality by theory, setting it into action can be a bit of a challenge.
This is why those in upper management, both men and women, should start practicing and modeling the following tips.
10 Tips On How To Develop Female Leaders In Your Organization
1. Promote A More Gender-inclusive Culture
To implement change, you need to develop a culture of developing female leaders.
If your organization lacks women leaders, then you need to start creating more opportunities set in a gender-inclusive environment.
Any and all efforts to increase women in leadership roles will prove to be useless if you don’t have a work culture that allows them to succeed.
Part of developing a gender-inclusive culture is to offer everyone in the organization a chance to be promoted to any position that they’re qualified for.
It’s also important to offer salaries based on the current market rate and not just their individual salary histories.
Same goes with benefits.
If there’s maternity leave, then there should also be paternity leave.
Becoming a gender-inclusive organization starts with setting guidelines that promote gender equality in the organizations.
2. Invest In Programs That Celebrate Diversity
Another way that you can make it easier for female leaders to grow and develop is to invest heavily in programs that celebrate diversity.
It’s not enough to just talk about being gender-inclusive, you need to prove it by taking part in programs that celebrate it – inside and outside the workplace.
Be one of the select organizations initiating change, and more women will want to work for you.
Even if you’re working in a unique industry that is dominated by men, you can still get women on board by breaking down the gender bias that surrounds your industry.
Make it your goal to develop a diverse executive team this year and allow your female leaders to take the lead in some ventures.
3. Make Your Efforts Public
We know that championing gender inclusivity is one of the most effective ways that you can get extra PR for your organization, but there’s an even bigger prize at stake if you know how to play your cards right.
When you make your efforts public, you also inspire other organizations to follow your initiative and start implementing better policies for their leaders.
One way that you can get people to notice is to put the spotlight on your women leaders.
Allow them to participate in speaking events within and outside your organization.
You can also give them a leg up by providing them with opportunities to volunteer in CSR programs or serve on a board.
By making women more visible in the industry, you’re not only encouraging other women to act, but you’re also expanding your own organization’s network.
4. Learn To Give Better Feedback
If you’re always on your toes when giving feedback to a female colleague, then it just means that you’re doing it wrong.
Delivering constructive feedback to anyone, whether male or female, can be hard.
But, if you’re specifically worried because you don’t know how your female colleague will take it, then you need to change how you say it.
Feedback should be practical and actionable to be relevant.
It doesn’t matter who you’re delivering it to.
Always remember to follow best practices.
Never assume the worst.
Give specific examples of how to say or do the right thing, and offer suggestions on how a person can improve.
Don’t force your own beliefs on a person without justifying it fairly.
5. Champion Leadership Qualities
Without a clear distinction of the qualities you expect from your leaders, people are likely to lean towards the typical ‘boss’ stereotype.
With more and more people looking for accountability in the workplace, business owners now view the ‘domineering boss’ as a liability in many companies.
Women in the workplace will have a harder time breaking out of their shell with this type of leadership in place.
Instead of adapting to the traditional boss stereotype, develop leadership qualities that the modern workforce will respond to.
Steer clear from micromanaging and start delegating more.
The best way to build your team is to look out for their well being and success.
When you clearly define what your company’s leadership looks like, it will be less of a challenge to break the gender bias in your organization.
6. Develop A Mentoring Program
It takes more than just a bi-annual performance check and reports to develop female leaders in any organization.
It’s a year-round process that requires the effort of the whole board.
The same way that it takes a village to raise a child, everyone in the organization needs to be on the same page when it comes to building your future roster of leaders.
Rather than just leaving it to an immediate supervisor to check on someone in the team, try to get the upper management involved in the mentoring process.
Implement programs that encourage 1-on-1 sitdowns with everyone across the board.
This will also help ensure that no one is unconsciously favoring certain employees.
7. Reward Women With Leadership Potential With Scholarships
There are less learning opportunities available to women in the workplace.
So, one of the best ways that you can help them grow their leadership skills is by awarding scholarships to those who are moving up the corporate ladder.
If you want to help women in your organization to reach their full potential, you need to invest in their education.
Female leaders aren’t developed in a day. They should be nurtured and encouraged to develop their skills.
If you still don’t have the resources to send some of your team members to school, at the very least, make your organization’s development programs accessible to everyone.
8. Deal With The Imposter Syndrome
Face it. Many women still suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’.
You may have many women who have the potential to take on more responsibilities in your company.
But, because of the negative self-talk, they’re not living out their full potential.
Imposter syndrome can’t be dealt with just with one pep talk.
It takes the conscious effort of everyone in the organization.
You can help female leaders deal with imposter syndrome by providing professional coaches who can walk them through individual situations and help them develop healthy coping skills.
Giving your female leaders that extra push to help them deal with their insecurities in the workplace will make them more productive.
It will also win you some loyal and dedicated leaders.
9. Encourage Women In Leadership Roles To Speak Up
If your board is predominantly male, you need to exert extra effort to get the women in leadership to speak up.
Women not recognizing that they have their own voice is one of the most harmful barriers to female leadership.
When they don’t have the confidence to speak up, there’s more space for conflict.
One way that you can encourage more women to speak up is by having open meetings where they can express themselves – no holds barred.
You can also have the HR department develop talks on how they can build their professional brands.
This is so that they can develop their confidence to speak in different settings.
10. Foster Teamwork In The Workplace
Teamwork makes all the difference in a company’s success.
Allow male and female executives to learn from each other by arranging gender diversity team-building events in your corporate calendar throughout the year.
Let every member know that they provide real value to your organization, regardless of their gender.
It may sound like a cliche, but organizations that don’t uphold teamwork as one of the core values have a harder time getting people to stay.
You should do your fair share in building your team up.
Otherwise, your organization will have a harder time retaining people and convincing people to give more than what the management expects them to give.
If you feel company management is not taking the necessary steps towards gender diversity, here are a few things you can do to encourage management to take action:
Developing Women Leaders: How To Encourage Your Organization To Take Action
- Initiate a meeting to call out biases. If biases clearly exist in your workforce, make a stand by making them visible and addressing them one by one.
- Challenge existing corporate culture that puts down women. It’s never okay to subject women to any form of harassment in the workplace, no matter how little it seems.
- Defend and support initiatives that promote gender diversity. Make sure that everyone in your organization, men and women, understand what these initiatives mean.
- Celebrate and encourage women to take their skills, talent, and abilities to the next level. Recognize their role in the success of the company that you’re building.
- Practice what you preach. If you’re in a middle or upper management position, model a gender-inclusive leadership style to your team.
Learning how to increase female leadership and developing a more inclusive corporate culture takes time and effort.
However, the most important factor in this equation is cooperation.
When the whole organization is engaged in your initiatives, it will only be a matter of time before you have your very own gender-inclusive management team.
Is your organization a gender-inclusive one?
Please share your experience with us!
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