Women can make great leaders in just about every industry, from tech to healthcare to business. They often have innate leadership skills and a high level of emotional intelligence that men sometimes lack. Unfortunately, women are routinely given lower-level positions in organizations and are all too often prevented from growing and becoming the great leaders they could become. When they are promoted to leadership positions, women are still paid much less than their male peers. Even in 2018, women still make just 82 cents for every dollar a man makes, and black women make just 63 cents for every dollar made by a white man.
Although we’ve improved the conversations we’re having about the gender gap of women in leadership, actual career growth of women at high levels within major organizations remains very small. Data analysis of 234 top companies revealed that just 14 of the companies had female CEOs, and 9 of the organizations had no women at all in executive roles or on their boards. By 2010, 47% of the workforce was female, but women are still severely underrepresented in leadership roles. Let’s take a look at why getting more women into leadership positions shouldn’t be an obligation, but something every business should want.
Women (Generally) Have More Empathy
Data matters. We know that. However, it’s not the only thing that matters in leadership. Women, as a general rule, tend to be more empathetic and people-focused than men, which is absolutely essential for communication and managing conflict. Men often feel the need to project “strength” and feel uncomfortable deviating from outdated, authoritarian methods of leadership.
Women in leadership roles can often create a safer, more comfortable environment that encourages collaboration over competition, ultimately encouraging employees to stay long-term and promoting diversity. Many women have high levels of self-awareness, and are always looking for ways to improve their leadership skills, giving them an edge over some of their male colleagues. Focusing on people as well as outcomes means that women can make the most effective leaders, as these two factors must be balanced for optimal productivity and success.
Equality Boosts Profits
Whenever there’s a push for change in an organization, executives want numbers to understand why the change is necessary. When it comes to gender diversity, those numbers are impressive. Companies that are gender-diverse are 15% more likely to outperform—numbers which are significant in terms of long-term success. The bottom line is that more women in leadership contributes to the real bottom line.
Tenacity and Ability to Overcome
Women who fight for their careers within their chosen fields or decide to give up on climbing the corporate ladder altogether in favor of entrepreneurship have amazing tenacity. Challenges in the workplace as a leader are inevitable, and women who have faced discrimination and have had to fight for what they want bring that tenacity into leadership roles. Of course, it would be better if women didn’t have to struggle in the workplace—but there is a silver lining to this persistent problem: the ability to overcome and find creative solutions to problems.
Women are often passionate and dedicated to more than just a paycheck. Businesses that bring women into leadership roles typically find that they’re dedicated to their people and may be more invested in the business’s mission than male leaders. Women are devoted and they form strong bonds, which can lead to tireless dedication.
Diverse Perspectives, More Innovation
One of the reasons that companies with women in leadership roles do better financially is because they have higher levels of diverse perspectives within the organization. Unless the company is selling strictly to a male customer base, women can provide valuable insights on female customers’ behavior and expectations from firsthand experience. These diverse perspectives allow for improved innovation and more creative strategies that can lead to successful business initiatives.
Without women managing companies and overseeing operations, companies cannot develop a strong culture that fosters growth and success. Both men and women have strengths in the workplace, and without female representation, companies suffer.
Although more women are beginning to take over leadership positions, we need to be proactive in conquering gender gap issues. Creating a more equal work culture requires recognizing the skills women bring to leadership roles and overcoming cultural biases. Many men in the workplace consciously or unconsciously create obstacles or do not support their female peers on a regular basis. It’s time to change that—not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because when women lead, everyone benefits.