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4 Steps to Increase Female Leadership in Organizations

Female leadership is crucial to increase diversity, but only 22% of S&P 500 public companies have women board directors. 3,627 women professionals across the world think their bosses do not treat them equally. So, how do you play fair? In this strategy+business article, James M. Citrin and Addie Swartz share 4 steps to increase female leadership in organizations.

4 Steps to Enable Female Leadership

Nowadays, more women are graduating from college than men. However, merely 7% hold the CEO position in Fortune 1000 companies. Though 87% of CEOs claim to focus on ‘talent, diversity, and inclusiveness,’ 2018 PwC report says otherwise. However, 450 CEOs have pledged to enable female leadership. Following are the 4 steps:

  1. Shifting Women to Powerful Roles: WEF’s 2017 Global Gender Gap report shows that women are behind in participation, salary, and career growth by 58%. Since they are hardly promoted at the initial career stages, female leadership is scarce in middle and senior management. 2017 PwC report says that 42% of women had doubt about their career growth post-pregnancy. Organizations too stalled promotions of 48% of new moms. However, 2.6 million experienced female professionals want to join back after leaving jobs for a degree, startup, or children. Companies must realize that most of the familial responsibilities fall on women. With flexible work hours, work from home facilities, and better career enablers, female leadership can flourish.
  1. Organizational Acceptance of Female Leadership: Gender inequality, visible bias, unethical office culture, typecasting, etc. are a few problems that women encounter at work. Phrases in job descriptions like ‘work hard, play hard’ can deter women. The description should satisfy 60% of men’s criteria and 100% for women. To increase female leadership, organizations must encourage women to be bolder. Only one-third of men receive training on gender diversity. As Liberty Mutual gives such training, 50% of its top positions have female leadership. Also, due to lack of role models and sponsors, several women fail to go up the corporate ladder. While women have more mentors, men have sponsors. Since the top leaders mostly are dominated by men, they need to sponsor more women.
  1. Inclusive Work Structure: Organizations will continue to experience fewer female leadership if they do not redefine their work structure. Applying Clayton M. Christensen’s “jobs to be done” theory can help bring changes in the work structure and hiring processes.
  2. Considering Promotion from More Roles: In 2017, 80% of CEOs got promoted from COO, sectional president ranks. 86% from general management and others from CFO. However, women are selected only if they moved to general management roles from corporate, administrative, or support functions. DiscoverOrg’s study finds out that the most popular C-suite roles were chief human resources officer role for women. Only 9% are CFOs, 7% are COOs, and 6% are CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. Promoting women to general management or P&L can increase female leadership. Organizations should encourage sponsorship of potential women leaders.

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