Empowering female leaders by highlighting their valuable Contribution to Corporate Success
Research is showing strong female leadership is correlated to organizational success such as Profitability
Smart companies have realized that gender diversity brings additional benefits which translate into improved corporate performance – in addition, women are often highly rated on taking initiatives, motivating staff and improving the general business outlook. Anecdotal evidence indicates this ‘comes at a price’ – women ‘need to work harder than men to prove themselves’, they feel under greater pressure not to make mistakes and the urge to assert their position at every step of the way. Against all odds many women are climbing the corporate ladder and making a very significant impact on company’s performance. A large number of studies are correlating female leadership with organizational success such as profitability, customer satisfaction and employee engagement. In spite of this evidence, women are still underrepresented in the corporate world.
The discussion on women representation at senior level should focus amongst other aspects on the economic case and business opportunities deriving from female leadership shaping corporate culture and achieving best results. Concentrating on what is positive and ‘right’ with companies investing in gender balance at executive level is a persuasive argument and should enhance female chances to make it to the top. What is the way forward to overcome prejudice and break corporate barriers?
Senior executives should demonstrate enough commitment to change the ‘status quo’ and set in motion mechanisms to implement these changes with adequate company policies and action plans together with accountability processes, communication and education initiatives. Practically no one is against gender balancing at senior level but there is a strong reluctance to adopt quotas for women at executive positions. Men often think the quota system is deeply unfair and some women feel insulted by the idea of getting promoted only because of their gender. However, in Scandinavian countries where female quotas have been implemented, the system has worked remarkably well and opened the door to wider possibilities for women breaking centuries of misconception and prejudice towards female leadership skills.
It is important to bring the gender discussion to companies and engage all levels of the organizational structure through communication and education. Mixed-gender networks for example could be more effective than women-only networks to spread the message and change perceptions regarding female leadership skills and style. Engaging in endless discussions about the lack of female representation is not enough, it is important to present solutions and introduce coherent action plans: present arguments for companies and senior executives to understand the benefits of gender balance and to design a road-map for businesses to address the problems and bring about change.
Leadership style is another topic we are planning to cover in future blogs. Can we differentiate between female leadership style and male leadership style? Are there considerable differences between male and female executive style reflecting the diverse way male and female approach work and difference in communication styles?
This discussion is often highly controversial and contested by opposite camps. However, there is evidence pointing to benefits of gender diversity because women bring new talents and valuable qualities to corporate management. So, in some ways we are recognizing there are differences in leadership style and these changes should be celebrated and encouraged.
We must take the big leap forward and focus on the benefits female leaders bring to the corporate world and business environment understanding that companies with a more gender-balanced leadership maintain a more sustainable performance, engage better with customer and create a happier working environment.
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