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The Need For More Women In Leadership Roles & How An Influx Of More Women Leaders Can Transform Organizations

The influx of women into organizations alongside the technological and economic evolution we are witnessing is a confluence the economy requires.

The gap is wide and the progress on closing it is painfully slow. And the pandemic only made the gap wider. 1.7 lakh Indians lost jobs every hour in the last year and 90% of those who lost jobs were women. Why? Because many had to opt-out or reduce hours for the purposes of caregiving—caring for children and elders. Now let’s look at some stats on women in leadership in India :

– 3.7% public companies in India have a woman CEO

– 17% women currently hold board positions in corporate India

– 8.6% women reach senior leadership positions in India

– Less than 1.6% of the VC funding is received by female founders

A couple of reasons behind why there are such few women in leadership positions:

There is disparity at the first level itself, which is referred to as ‘the broken rung’. For every 100 men hired and promoted at the entry-level, only 72 women are hired and promoted. This number decreases at every subsequent level. “The leaky pipeline”, a commonly used analogy explains that as women progress toward higher-level roles, yhe pipeline for women in leadership begins to get leaky with more and more women falling out. The rate of progress is so slow that it will take more than 200 years to achieve parity at the C-suite level. Yes, you read that correctly. 200 years. India happens to be fifth from bottom when it comes to women in leadership.

Let’s understand why this is the case :

– Lack of role models – women do not have enough (other) women they can look upto.

– Biases galore – in India, women are still looked at as primary caregivers for children and the family (now more than ever); leadership qualities of being aggressive, competitive, analytical are erroneously seen as male-centric

– Lesser networking opportunities – it is no secret that a strong network and support group is vital for one’s professional growth. Due to the lack of women at the top, most networks often end up being an ‘all boy’s club’ with agendas that do not take into account the challenges a woman faces to advance to senior leadership levels.

How Can Women In Leadership Transform Your Organization?

Having more women in leadership roles can not only elevate, but transform your organisation.

1. Women Leaders Can Help Reduce The Gender Pay Gap: the gender pay gap is a phenomenon that has persisted in organizations and workplaces despite decades of progress and having more women in leadership roles is a step towards this.

2. Women Leaders Can Help Drive Effective Solutions: when women become leaders, apart from skill, they also bring with them the capabilities of building strong relationships across levels, the inclination for communicating directly, prioritise leading from the center as opposed to the top, and are more conscious of diverse perspectives instilled by having held outsider status.

3. Gender Diversity At Work Means Profitability: the more diverse a workplace is, the more different are the ideas that come together, thus fueling growth and aiding in the sustainability of any organization. Diversity in the workplace is not an issue that is limited to gender parity in leadership roles. It is about equally combining the two throughout the organisation.

The influx of women into organizations alongside the technological and economic evolution we are witnessing is a confluence the economy requires. Empowering women is a $12 trillion economic opportunity, not social charity.

We need to recognize that gender equality isn’t a ‘women’s issue’, it is equally important for men to participate. Since a lot of men ask me how they can ‘help’, here are a few ways to make that happen :

– First and foremost, like every issue, acknowledge there’s more progress to be made.

– Keep communication clear and fair – focus on action points and not personality traits during feedback discussions.

– Drop the assumptions – let women tell you if there is a role or challenge that they do not wish to take on.

– Advocate flexible work policies and cooperate with those who choose them – remote work, parental leave, etc.

– Mentor a high potential woman – help her advance in her career and advocate her at key inflection points.

– Involve them every step of the way – from planning to decision making

– Condemn all forms of gender-based violence and harassment, both at home and in the workplace.

It is upon each one of us to come together and ensure more women are represented, heard, seen, and occupy leadership positions—and to build communities where we can foster a culture that allows this to happen. Here’s to making more women in leadership positions a reality, and the world seeing many more Falguni Nayars!

Source: Business World

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