To advance more women into leadership positions, supervisors need to create an environment that enables women to develop and utilize their leadership skills.
In the last few years, a great deal of emphasis and effort has been placed on empowering women and ensuring that they fill more leadership positions. Still, the fact is that leadership positions held by women -- especially those in labor-intensive industries such as construction and maritime -- remain relatively low. Women account for only 4% of CEOs in the world's top 500 prominent companies.
There is an increasing and pressing need to foster women leaders. All companies, regardless of size, require the best leadership to operate at peak performance. Here are five things your company can start doing today to engage women at your company and grow their leadership skills:
Research suggests that women are often given projects or tasks at work that don't capitalize on their strengths or talents. They’re also often not placed in roles where they will be noticed by decision-makers. Women are less likely to be given leadership responsibilities such as project management or client-facing presentations, which could enable them to improve their leadership skills. Consider finding ways to track individual performance at your company and ensure you have a fair system in place. Consider if the projects given to women are more "behind the scenes" than those given to the men. If so, challenge your management team to think more critically about how projects are assigned and to whom.
There is an ever-present need to cultivate an inclusive culture in the business world. That means creating a collaborative and inclusive culture for all employees. If you don't have a fair process for evaluating employees, they may not be considered for leadership positions. So, how can supervisors create an inclusive culture?
One surefire way to assist women who are interested in leadership is by offering appropriate training. By providing women the same training opportunities as men, you are creating and fostering gender equality. Supervisors should develop a training regimen designed to encourage women to pursue leadership roles. Women should also be encouraged to sign up for leadership programs outside of in-house training. Studies show that leadership training and networking with other female leaders help boost a woman's confidence. Supervisors should make a concerted effort to ensure women are given the same training opportunities as men.
Organizations should conduct a thorough review to study their workforce and ensure gender equality. Employee surveys are a great way to identify inequities that might not be easily recognized. For example, dismissing someone for a specific role based solely on gender should never occur (and not only because it is illegal). Supervisors need to be mindful and actively recruit both women and men based on their qualifications, not their gender.
Knowing the right person can be integral to getting that promotion, project, or simply a new opportunity. As a supervisor, you can help create the right networks for women to gain this access. Many women feel that networking is political, manipulative, or insincere. That's why the networks you help create must be both genuine and beneficial. The most effective leaders rely on networks and trusted partners to help influence their decisions. Both women and men need a network of sponsors, mentors, and coaches.
The role of women in the workplace has evolved and advanced tremendously in a relatively short period of time, but there is still progress to be made. Women continue to earn less, on average, than men for the same job, and they are often turned down for promotions despite their qualifications. There is no better time to make gender equality a priority in your workplace. More women are needed in leadership roles, and effective supervisors can help make that happen. Having qualified, skilled, and engaged women in leadership roles will expand your organization's resources, provide different perspectives, and ultimately benefit your workforce.
Our mission at AEU LEAD is to enable transformation. For those wanting to transform through the development of soft skills for supervisors and managers, we’re here to help. AEU LEAD strengthens organizations and empowers managers with leadership and safety training tailored to your business. Explore our services or talk with our team to learn more.