While it’s true that women have been enjoying increasing success in attaining top business leadership roles, and that the imbalance between the genders is closing each year, this evolution could still be deemed incremental. In fact, only 6.4% of Fortune 500 companies are run by female CEOs. This equates to roughly 32 companies out of 500. Just 11 female CEOs are on the ASX 200, and 41 of the nation’s largest companies don’t have a woman on their executive leadership.
It is clear there is work to be done in reaching a more substantial sense of balance, not just to attain the ideal of equality but also because of the simple fact that having more women in leadership roles is good for business. Here’s a look at why women benefit businesses when they are in more leadership roles, and how they positively impact the careers of others when they do so.
Women Drive Long-Term Thinking
Recent studies indicate that women tend not to think in straight lines. This non-linear perception in business means seeing a wider array of possible pathways as a web of interrelated concepts, instead of a step-by-step progression. Such a versatile and holistic outlook can lead to greater consideration of variables and options, generating a wider spectrum of contextual solutions that reach farther forward because they are less compartmentalised.
This results in a longer term appreciation of events and an avoidance of the pitfalls of short-term thinking. For organisations, this means a greater ability to foresee opportunities and avoid future risks. This allows them to be more prepared, better plan, and adopt a proactive rather than reactive approach in handling trends and threats. Seeing this kind of thinking in action also gives other female entrepreneurs an approach of how to better run a business in terms of future planning and preparation.
Role Models for Other Women
C-suite women leaders serve as role models to other women, demonstrating to female employees what is possible in their own careers if they want to work hard for it. The more women see and interact with successful women, the more likely they are to engage more with their careers in order to further their own professional lives. This leads to these women becoming more inspired and focused and, as a result, offering more to the organisations they work for.
This role model effect has a significant impact on inspiring women to achieve a greater level of success. A recent study found that 83.3% of women in the tech industry who want a C-suite role also say they have a role model. The fact that women at the top encourage other women to excel at their work creates a culture where hard work is seen as valuable not just to the business itself but also for enhancing and taking the careers of individuals to the next level.
Enhanced Workplace Inclusivity
Women tend to be socially inclusive. This quality is a key driver that can demolish the traditional barriers within organisations that divide and exclude, not just along gender lines but also along culture and race. Businesses that are led by women who promote an enduring cultural understanding of social cohesion and diversity thrive not just locally but also globally. This is due to employees being assessed on their merits, not their loyalties or differences.
Women leaders are also adept at promoting the view that employees are as important as the bottom line. This leads to working environments within organisations that value employees and their insights more, making them feel as “part of the team” and that their contributions are recognised. When businesses value each and every employee and what they have to say, positive results happen such as increased workplace satisfaction, better collaboration and communication between the company’s internal teams, and reduced employee turnover.
Emotional Intelligence to Guide a More Positive Environment
Women score highly in emotional intelligence, and this can make them incredibly effective leaders. Women are equipped to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the individuals on their team. This awareness makes it easier to ensure employees are working to their full potential, that their needs within the business are met, and that group dynamics are healthy and productive in the workplace.
In organisational group settings, higher emotional intelligence often comes with the type of social sensitivity required to read non-verbal cues and map underlying intentions. Women can quickly understand the group, where the conversation is heading, and how to best form and guide consensus to deliver objectives. This also fosters a deeper understanding of what each employee has to say and reduces miscommunication within the team.
All This Leads to Business Growth
Women in leadership roles initiate feedback loops that continue to drive structural growth. Research demonstrates that inclusive, diverse companies outperform their counterparts by up to 80%. Ignoring or downplaying the need for equality in business leadership is not just a form of backward thinking, it is also one of the easiest ways to stifle growth. Businesses with strong female leadership generate higher Return on Equity (10.1%) than those without (7.4%).
It’s a brighter road ahead once we understand that having more women in leadership roles is not something for companies to simply check off a list. It is a starting point for multiple paths to inclusion and diversity, both bottom line organisational necessities that will generate resilience and progress. This improves the chances of strategic adaptation and long-term revenue development, both indicators of real, sustainable growth.
But of course, if you want to aim for a leadership role, it’s not enough for the organisation to want you—you must be prepared and have the necessary competencies, capabilities and skills as well. And, if you really want to enhance and develop your leadership skills, you must not work on it alone—you have to interact, communicate, and work with others since being a leader means building and nurturing professional relationships as well. This is why we recommend joining a strong network of like-minded people and/or hire an Executive Coach/Mentor to help you achieve that goal.
Behind Closed Doors is a leading national network of businesswomen that aims to help, support, and encourage each other to reach a higher level of success and professional development. Through networking, mentorship, and other resources, we promote collaborations, communication, and interactions that will help you be ready to drive your business or career forward, and become a better and more effective leader along the way. Please don’t hesitate to contact us; we’ll be more than happy to help you out.
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