Women have come a long way in the corporate world, since the dark days just a few decades ago when women were routinely paid much less than their male counterparts, and those who achieved management roles were rarer than a vegan in a steakhouse.
More women have broken through the glass ceiling and now almost 40% of those occupying top positions on the Boards of the UK’s top 100 companies are female. But while a new non-executive director class of female high-flyers has emerged to help those companies meet Government targets, the number of CEO’s of those same companies who are female, is just eight. That is eight percent. And the pipeline of female senior managers at the executive level has stalled as well. There is still a lot of progress regarding gender equality in the workplace to be made.
This is a shame because research has shown that companies with more female managers tend to perform better than those with fewer women in management roles.
There are many reasons why more women should be encouraged to take up positions in management. Below are some of the reasons why:
1. Diverse companies perform better
A diverse team will produce more creative and innovative results than a less diverse team. It stands to reason; people from different backgrounds with different life experiences will have varying perspectives on the world and what solutions will work for people like them. Smash those insights together and you’re likely to come up with something unexpected.
The added bonus of having more women in those decision-making roles is that female consumers make the vast majority of purchasing decisions out there in the shops and online. Women account for a massive 85% of all consumer purchase decisions. So of course female leaders will have a more instinctive insight into other women who they are more likely to share experience with than their male counterparts.
2. Soft skills are a leadership essential
Women don’t have a deficit in hard, or technical, business skills. But due to complex social pressures, women are unfortunately less likely to have those skills. The number of girls taking A-levels in maths and physics has stalled. Just 16% of those studying A-level physics in the UK are female, with similar figures for Computer Science. That is an increasing problem for our economy and society. We are in the internet age, and it’s an environment designed by young men, where often women’s needs and interests are just invisible.
But that’s a problem for another article. The flip side of the social pressures that are keeping women out of tech is that the same mix has resulted in women having much higher levels of emotional intelligence, or soft skills. Studies have found that women outperform men in 11 out of 12 measures of emotional intelligence. And that is a massive management advantage. Emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and understand emotions. It leads to advanced communication skills, reasoning ability, self-awareness, and empathy. Leaders with those attributes at a highly developed level are found to be much more effective.
Empathy is a valuable quality for leaders as it allows them to better understand the needs of their team members. It also allows leaders to build trusting and constructive relationships with their team members. These strong relationships are essential for effective teamwork and achieving business goals.
Especially in the healthcare industry, empathy is a critical quality for leaders. This is because healthcare is a people-centric industry, and leaders need to understand the needs of their patients, staff, and other stakeholders. So, women should be encouraged in working towards a career in health services to help fill this industry’s empathy gap. When there is a problem, women tend to take a collaborative approach to find a solution.
It has been shown time and again that women are better at building relationships than men. This is due to various factors, including that women are typically more communicative and intuitive than men. Women also tend to be more cooperative and often place greater importance on personal relationships than men.
All of these qualities make women excellent managers. To succeed, a manager must build strong relationships with employees, superiors, and clients alike. Women have a natural advantage when it comes to doing just that.
3. The power of mentoring
Mentoring is a virtuous cycle for ambitious women. There is no better inspiration than seeing someone like yourself in a position of success. Senior women are quite simply role models in themselves, enabling more junior women to believe that it is possible for them to achieve career advancement too.
Many big firms have established mentoring schemes to help women progress. And there are community-based schemes out there for women whose companies don’t have anything in-house. Alternatively women can seek out the right mentor through networking. There are many benefits to having a female mentor. For one, mentoring helps to develop leadership skills. It also allows for sharing of knowledge and experience between the mentor and the mentee. This can be especially helpful for young women just starting their careers.
Female mentors can also help to promote networking opportunities for their mentees. They can also provide guidance and support during difficult times. Finally, female mentors can help their mentees reach their full potential professionally and personally.
4. A more sustainable approach to work-life balance
When it comes to work-life balance, women have the advantage. A Families and Work Institute study found that 76 percent of women felt they could balance their work and family responsibilities, compared to just 58 percent of men. And when both parents worked full time, mothers were more likely than fathers to say they had a good balance between their work and personal lives (78 percent vs. 66 percent).
This isn’t just because women are more naturally nurtured than men – it has much to do with how our society is structured. For example, women are still more likely to be responsible for childcare and household tasks, even if both partners work full time. And while there are more opportunities for working mothers today than ever before, work demands often conflict with home life’s demands.
Women have many advantages when seeking and holding management positions. From their positive attributes to their greater likelihood of promoting work-life balance, women are increasingly becoming the face of successful businesses everywhere. As our world changes and becomes more fast-paced, we must encourage more women to take positions in management to help lead the way to a better future for us all.