By now, we are all aware of gender diversity and initiatives that need to be started or developed within companies, but outside the external mandates, what is the depth of understanding around the internal evolution and shifts, culturally, that need to be made around Women’s Leadership? Outside of targets and numbers and appearances, what are the dynamics that need to be cultivated and what immersion and integration is necessary for the changes to be adapted at a cellular level of being?
Let me first clarify that Women’s Leadership is assumed to be solely about developing women’s leadership capabilities which is incorrect. Yes, it does prepare junior managers for senior leadership roles and support women leaders in C-Suite, but a lot of women’s leadership coaching is about dealing with the negative systemic issues of becoming a leader in preexisting cultures both in society and in an company’s culture. So this beg’s the question, would it not be more effective to coach and develop the culture around women’s leadership with all parties involved?
The first dynamic that needs to be addressed is that Women’s Leadership is not a problem to be solved only by developing women; this will only get us so far in the evolution of gender diversity in the workplace. One way to make a cultural shift is to educate and coach men in the workplace not only on the benefits of women in leadership and the value, but also their own role in advancing the culture and opening the conversation around their fear or threat of more competition.
Secondly, we need to get upper management, top executives and all CEO’s on board not just signing the papers to approve it, but getting involved and participating and leading by example. This is a huge factor to have a successful shift as the top leaders set the whole context for acceptance and perpetuate a culture throughout the organization. If you truly desire a transformation in culture around gender diversity in your company or industry, this is one area that you could not be too busy or have more pressing issues; this one would require your attention and presence.
Thirdly, a development strategy to train, mentor, and progress women at all levels and in all areas of the company would need to be implemented. This would involve planning, systems, and pathways created for advancement with training.
Lastly, for the women who are already in a leadership role, they are in a unique position to influence change. No matter what control they do or do not have in the company, these women need to pull another woman up to the top and then another, one by one. They are also in a position of authority to become advocates for change and need to use their voice to move the dial of acceptance and equality. Growth and evolution are counting on them to take the risk beyond the fear of conformity and status quo that holds their job ransom. If what got them to the top was playing the game, they are now in a powerful position to change the rules of the game.
So why should a company expend energy to advance Woman’s Leadership and gender diversity? Before the door is shut around examining whether to shift a corporate culture to gender diversity, it may be of interest to know why this is important or perhaps the burning query of why would you invest both time and capital. What will it do for your company outside meeting government standards, societal pressure, and public respect?
Well on the purely let’s get to business and show me the numbers side of why Women’s Leadership and gender diversity are important for business and for the return on investment inclined decision makers, it is important to note here that a McKinsey report has shown that:
“…companies in the top quartile for gender diversity at the executive level were 22% more likely to outperform their national industry average.”
In addition, a study done by the Peterson Institute showed that a company with 30% female leadership could expect to add up to six percentage points to its net margin.
There are numerous studies beyond these with multiple statistics proving the positive impact women in leadership have to the bottom line for a company. Perhaps with no money or statistic to support its impact, the far greater return on investment is the ability for all of us to play a significant role in advancing the corporate world for equality, integrity, and above all else to evolve and create much needed evolution.