A global study conducted by Deloitte in 2022 on women representation in the boardrooms of companies revealed that women held just 19.7% of the board seats. While this was an improvement by 2.8% from 2019, the fact is that we are progressing at a snail’s pace and at this rate gender parity will be achieved only in the year 2045. A change for the better might be happening, but it is too slow.
The pandemic too played a role in preventing progress on this front and it is now crucial that we move beyond just talking about gender parity to actually doing something about it. Increasing the number of women leaders is the first step in a long journey towards embracing diversity and inclusivity.
It is to be noted that while the number of women in boards has improved, this does not translate to an increase in women in CEO positions.
Female Leaders Are Change Agents
Women as leaders bring in empathy, passion and creativity. Their originality is their main strength and they stay practical and people-focused in the face of challenges.
A New Perspective
- Women leaders bring with them a new perspective which might present a situation in a whole new light.
- This influences the way decisions are made.
- When inclusive decisions are taken, the whole organization prospers.
The Empathy Factor
- It is well-known that empathy is a characteristic women possess.
- In terms of leadership, this translates to women leaders being more accepting of differences without being judgmental.
- As a result, they understand the difficulties other people are going through and work with them to come up with effective solutions.
- When this happens, the employees too become loyal to their leader and organization.
- There is a basic difference often observed between the leadership styles of men and women. Men tend to be more authoritative while women are more approachable.
- Women’s style is listening, understanding and then arriving at a solution that works for the employee as well as the organization.
- Clear communication has been one of women’s biggest strengths.
- It is not just the ability to communicate clearly, women are also known to listen and connect more with others.
- Women leaders use this skill to have dialogues that are open, clear and most importantly, beneficial.
- This enables them to develop a rapport with their co-workers as well as subordinates.
- In today’s competitive world, mentoring is extremely important.
- This applies to both men and women as a guide during the formative years can make a world of difference.
- Women have been found to be very effective mentors.
- Being informed and observant while being sensitive to others’ problems is what makes them amazing mentors.
- Having women mentors for boys, changes boys’ outlook on women leaders leading to a more accepting and inclusive younger generation.
- Having women mentors for young girls inspires them and shows them that women too can take up the leadership mantle.
Closing the Gender Pay Gap
- Gender pay gap refers to the difference in pay between men and women doing the same kind of job with men being paid more.
- Having women leaders is one of the many solutions to reducing the pay gap.
- Typically, men are given more opportunities than women at the work place. Women leaders can address this issue as well.
Ability to Multi-Task
- Women are invariably pushed to multitask in everyday life.
- They manage work, home, children and sometimes even elderly family as routine tasks.
- This has embedded in them the ability to handle, adapt and respond quickly to unexpected situations.
- Thus, women leaders are skilled at assessing and responding to unanticipated conditions.
The Challenges Women Face
- While there is a definite increase in women stepping out of what has been traditionally their comfort zones to explore new avenues, it is still predominantly a man’s world out there and entering it is something a lot of women find intimidating.
- Women continue to be considered as homemakers and work-life balance is not easy for them.
- There are not many expectations from women in general and this could lead to them not considering themselves good enough.
- Empathy which is women’s biggest strength can sometimes be labeled as being too emotional and not strong when it comes to making decisions.
The Proof Is in the Pudding – Women Leaders During the Pandemic
Women constitute only 8% of the political leaders worldwide, yet 40% of the successful responses to the pandemic has been by women-led countries. The death count in women-led countries was 6 times lesser when compared with other similar countries led by men.
So, how did the women leaders achieve this?
- Women leaders took other people’s opinion into consideration; from scientists to medical experts, they didn’t shy away from taking the advice of people who are knowledgeable in their fields.
- They don’t consider this as a weakness, they don’t consider this as demeaning to their authority, they simply consider this as prioritizing their people.
- As a result, protecting people’s health protected the country’s economy too in the long run.
- Other factors which contributed to women’s successful handling of the pandemic included their amenable stance and their ability to admit their mistakes, learn from them and correct them.
- Reaching out to the front-line workers and public with clear instructions helped establish trust and approachability as well.
When women are unrepresented, crucial decisions are taken without considering their impact on women. As a result, laws and responses formulated to deal with crises do not have the effect they should. This makes it imperative to have women representation as well as leadership.
- The governing bodies should make sure of women’s involvement by allotting quotas for them.
- It is necessary to consult women’s organizations and take their perspective into account before making any decision.
- Organizations should frame policies that are supportive of women’s advancement.
- Women should be encouraged to get rid of their doubts about their abilities and to step up to take up challenging roles.
- Gender specific planning has to be given priority as it is key for a better future.