4 Ways to Close the Gender Leadership Gap
By Arijit Banerjee
Empirical evidence concurs with the fact that leaderships with a higher gender balance achieve better results in management and in overall business. There are studies that show the importance of having more women in senior roles to have a more positive impact on productivity, performance, and creativity in the workplace. This makes it ideal for organizations, and especially their leadershipsto have gender parity. The reality, however, seems to be far different from what is ideal. Flag-bearing roles in the workforce are yet to see as many women as there should be to fill the existing gender gap.
What can organizations do?
Have a specific strategy to invite women talent
Organizations will have to develop and implement a targeted strategy to hire women employees who exhibit the signs to be potential leaders. Companies need practical measures to fill the gender gap in their leadership by studying and identifying the factors that create it in the first place. Management must provide the tools to its recruiters for assessing and hiring high potential women candidates. This also leads to the need for keeping the women employees motivated and engaged so that they can be retained to play an impactful role in the leadership. A higher number of women in senior roles helps attract more female employees. LinkedIn data shows that a higher women representation in the leadership tends to increase women hires across the board. Policy-driven changes such as flexible working hours, remote-work options, crèche facility can also lead to a big impact while hiring women candidates.
Train women for leadership roles
Formal development programs that are customized to train women employees for leadership roles is a long-term investment in closing the gender gap in leadership. Organizations have to analyze the factors that lead to this severe gap and address them in order to achieve a balance. Creating an internal mentorship program with both male and female mentors can help resolve the issue to a great extent, as it does not limit knowledge and experience sharing. Such programs also provide opportunities for professional growth and learning which further leads to higher job engagement and talent retention. Excellent training and development programs emerged as one of the top factors for female employees, in a survey done by PWC. This was unanimous for female employees at different stages of their careers, from starting to moving, to returning into workforce.
Ensure a fair evaluation and pay system
The same PWC report on Female Talent and Inclusive Recruitment revealed that about 50% of women believe that there is a pay gap between equally qualified male and female hires. Organizations must be prepared to tackle this issue as this is evidently one of the major roadblocks in achieving gender parity in an organization’s leadership. Companies need to fix any existing pay discrepancies right from their recruitment to their evaluation processes. Curbing both conscious and unconscious biases while evaluating employees and providing fair and equal benefits is one of the strongest methods to promote gender equality in the workplace.
Rethink recognition and career advancement
Women have more ground to cover when it comes to gaining recognition or advancement due to career gap. Despite the same level of qualification and work experience, men are more likely to be offered recognition and opportunities to advance in their profession. According to survey done by PayScale, male employees are 142% more likely than women to move to C-suite or other senior roles, by late career. Companies need to devise strategies to make women ‘career-break penalty-proof’. This needs to be checked in terms of biases where it is assumed that women employees don’t deem fit for certain roles and responsibilities as well as actual policies that allow women to have equal opportunities despite a career gap.
The Global Gender Gap report of 2017 estimates that it would take another 217 years to fill this gap, given the current rate of change. This clearly indicates the need for some rapid measures that must be taken to close the prevalent gender gap in the leading roles across industries. Forward looking organizations (80% - according to the PWC report) are already recognizing the need to become more inclusive and are adopting policies that will help them achieve more diversity.