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Leadership Aspirations: Women’s Call for Empowerment and Support

Leadership Aspirations:
Women’s Call for Empowerment and Support

In the post-pandemic work landscape, a concerning trend has emerged – a significant number of women are departing from leadership positions. These women have made decisive choices, confident that they have alternative paths to pursue career advancement within organizations that share their values. The central issue is not their dedication or work ethic, but rather the insufficient support required to achieve their goals.

Citing factors such as inadequate support, inflexibility, employee well-being, and concerns about diversity, equity, and inclusion, women in leadership are stepping down from their roles and seeking other opportunities that better align with their needs. While some may question the motives behind what some are dubbing “The Great Breakup,” women are more ambitious than ever about excelling in their work and advancing to senior management roles.

Companies Can’t Afford to Lose Their Women Leaders

Research shows that organizations with greater diversity and inclusivity perform better than those who don’t. Advocates for gender diversity also note that in addition to being the right thing to do, promoting more women to leadership positions is smart business, and that companies who fail to do so compromise their earning power. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) report: Women in Business and Management: The business case for change:

Of gender diverse companies report increased profits and productivity
Report an increased ability to attract and retain talent
Report greater creativity, innovation, and openness
Report enhanced company reputation

Companies that take swift action to retain and promote more women in leadership roles reap the rewards, including enhanced collaboration, diverse problem solving, and increased overall profi tability. In fact, KRW International, a Minneapolis-based leadership consultancy, found that CEOs whose employees gave them high marks for characteristics that are often intuitive for women leaders [standing up for what’s right, expressing concern for the common good, letting go of mistakes (their own and others’), and showing empathy], achieved an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period.

Progress and Persistence in Closing the Gender Gap

When we compare today’s circumstances with that of the past, we can all agree women have made enormous strides. It may be hard to believe that as recently as the 1970s and 80s, women were required to have a husband or male relative’s permission to open a bank account, own a credit card, and secure a business loan.

However, gender disparities persist. Men hold about three-quarters of senior management positions, and women, on average, earn just 82 cents for every dollar earned by men. To understand this ongoing gap in earnings and corporate success, it’s crucial to examine historical biases and perspectives.

Throughout history and across cultures, women were often valued for their roles as caregivers and homemakers, seen as subordinate to men. Women have had to overcome these biases to access education and economic opportunities. It’s only in recent decades, progress has been made in dismantling gender and race-based financial discrimination, allowing women to fully participate in corporate life.

Despite improved access to financial resources, corporate women still disproportionately bear the brunt of domestic duties, childcare, and caregiving compared to their male counterparts. As they strive to establish themselves in the corporate world, women are determined to overcome obstacles and succeed as leaders, leveraging their unique skills and expertise free from bias.

A Strategic Approach to Promoting More Women to Leadership Roles

To support and empower women wanting to climb the corporate ladder, companies must create an equitable workplace where women are embraced by a culture of fairness and inclusivity. By nurturing diversity and empathy, organizations can authentically meet the needs of their women leaders and employees.

Before companies can take targeted steps to mend the “broken rung,” they must identify gaps in their talent pipeline where women have been overlooked or bypassed for promotions compared to men. Once this information is identified, they must follow through with a fair and equitable process to ensure that promotions, outcomes, and evaluations are conducted without bias.

Create High-Quality Policies and Programs

To achieve lasting results within their organizations, companies should prioritize the development of high-quality policies and programs, implementing them gradually over time. Depending on specific objectives, some training may require ongoing availability. For instance, if the aim is to foster enduring cultural change, employees may benefit from periodic bias training refreshers.

To assess the impact and effectiveness of these programs, it is crucial for companies to monitor participation and track outcomes. Without this valuable information, initiatives may fall short of achieving their intended results. This is why The She-Suite’s Brand Leadership Institute follows a cadence of biweekly progress reports and check-ins with their participants, and shares graduate analytics once the program has completed.

Provide Flexible Work Options

Supporting and promoting women leaders can be achieved by advocating for policies that facilitate the balance between work and family obligations. Remote and flexible work options are game-changers for a lot of women and can be leveraged as incentives to retain and promote more women leaders.

Many women have reported that remote and hybrid work options have significantly enhanced their work experience in various ways, including minimizing exposure to microaggressions, boosting productivity and autonomy, and allowing for greater flexibility overall.

Recognize Women's Contributions

A study by Women in the Workplace found that women are twice as likely as men to invest significant time in DEI work while receiving minimal acknowledgment, especially during performance reviews. Despite these efforts yielding positive outcomes such as higher retention rates and increased employee satisfaction, this lack of recognition causes many women to feel overlooked, overwhelmed, and burned out.

The time has come for women in leadership to seek out organizations that align with their values and offer genuine career advancement opportunities with a robust support system in place. Companies that hesitate to implement meaningful change risk not only losing more women leaders but also failing to inspire the next generation of women, who are closely observing these trends unfold.