More Power to Women! Women in Leadership Roles

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Last updated on
23rd Mar, 2021
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05th Mar, 2021
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More Power to Women! Women in Leadership Roles

This year, the theme chosen by UN Women celebrates the efforts by women across the world in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The slogan, Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world, acknowledges the leadership skills that women bring to the table, making their mark in ways that far exceed the achievements of their male counterparts.

Last year, adevastating tragedies caused by the pandemic played out in countries far and wide, women stood out as frontline warriors everywhere. They played remarkable roles as healthcare workers, primary caregivers, counsellors, community workers and engineers and technical innovators and truly made a difference through selfless, untiring service to humanity.

And yet, their burdens were disproportionate and their contributions largely went unrecognized. 

Countries that are headed by women—Germany, New Zealand, Finland and Ethiopia, among others—have been far more successful in halting the progress of Covid-19 in its tracks, making rapid and decisive decisions that were based on compassion and that their citizens responded to. 

Even so, only 20 countries worldwide have women at the helm of their Governments.

Not just in politics, but women are unable to effectively participate in public life, and are as yet unable to make significant contributions to leadership roles in many corporates across sectors and industries. Why this disparity, in today’s day and age? 

What can organizations do to encourage more women to come out and utilize their strengths, getting recognized just as much as men in a similar role would be?

Women in Leadership Roles

Breaking the Glass Ceiling 

Traditionally considered the weaker and fairer sex, few women in the 80s and 90s had reached a position where they could wield power and authority. Even when they did, they were expected to lead in much the same manner that a man would: by being authoritarian, directive and leading from the top.

However, times and changing and so are trends in the workplace. More women today are at the helm of organizations, big and small, than ever before. They inevitably find that they face bigger challenges than their male counterparts and have to struggle far more to prove themselves.

Powerful women

A large part of their workplace woes stem from the fact that what is deemed acceptable behaviour from a male leader is often frowned upon in a woman. If a man is aggressive and assertive, he is respected, while if a woman acts the same way she is considered to be dominating.

Similarly, if a woman leader shows that she is caring and nurturing, instead of considering that these are positive traits she is dismissed as lacking authority and being too soft.

Women in Leadership Roles

Women are also automatically given more responsibilities at home, and are considered the more natural caregivers for children and elders in the family. It will take not just a more sensitive organization, but also a more supportive family for them to be able to successfully navigate the challenges of being a woman leader in today’s world. 

A study by Pew Research showed that about four out of ten Americans feel that there are higher standards set for women seeking to climb the corporate ladder, where they have to struggle much more to prove themselves than a male would have to. The second biggest hurdle was found to be, quite simply, the fact that companies were not really ready to hire women leaders.

Women are also automatically given more responsibilities at home, and are considered the more natural caregivers for children and elders in the family. It will take not just a more sensitive organization, but also a more supportive family for them to be able to successfully navigate the challenges of being a woman leader in today’s world. 

What's holding women back from top jobs

But there are many clear benefits of a woman leader that put them head and shoulders above male leaders.  

  • Women view situations from a new angle. They bring a fresh perspective and a whole new approach to problem-solving that comes out of their own life experiences, which are inherently different from a male viewpoint. 
  • They are naturally more empathetic; and mentoring, guiding and collaborating come far more easily to them.  
  • They are excellent communicators and are readily able to manage teams across geographies.  
  • Their capacity for high emotional maturity also helps them to get under the skin of their subordinates better, and be sympathetic to their diverse situations and any personal issues they may have.  
  • When teams led by women feel that they are being heard, they rally together to perform better.

A McKinsey study found that on the average, women exhibit five out of nine leadership behaviours that drive organizational performance more often than men. This contributes significantly to stronger organizational performances.

Leadeship Behaviours

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A Nudge in the Right Direction 

In fact, having more women in leadership positions isn’t just good for feminist morale—it has been proven to boost profitability.

The US think tank, the Peterson Institute conducted a study of over 21,000 public companies across 91 countries, and found a direct correlation between the numbers of women there were at the higher management levels and the bottom line.

On the average, a company with 30% female leadership was able to notch up at least 6 percentage points to their net margin, as compared to a similar company with no female leadership. It has been found that women should be at a critical mass of over 20% at the decision making levels in order to catalyse higher performances.

What Can Organizations Do to Increase the Numbers of Women in Leadership Roles? 

Women in Leadership Roles

The spotlight is already on the concept of equity and gender fairness, and with targeted support, more women can take those all-important first steps to move ahead in the workplace.

  • The first step in the right direction would be to create awareness, across all levels, of the need to create more gender equity in the workplace.  
  • The proportion of women at each rung of the management ladder and among fresh recruits can be studied, and steps taken to address any inadequate representation of women at any level.
  • Pay levels and attrition rates need to be studied, and any salary disparities should be plugged.
  • By carrying out a diagnosis of the existing situation, the management can identify gaps and bottlenecks and take steps to promote more eligible women to suitable posts.

Women in Leadership at KnowledgeHut: Dissolving the Gender Barrier!  

Aversatileleader,ShyniSatyamitrais the ChiefSales Officerat KnowledgeHut, a leading Ed-tech company offering a wide repertoire of professional training programs that equip workforce for the digital age,helping enterprises across industries and sectors develop new capabilities and nurture future-ready talent.Shyniprovides a deep understanding andbalancedperspective on howthe right workplace culture is critical to promote women in leadership positions in today’s VUCA world and emerging industry landscape.

Shefeels that women face many of the same challenges that men face in the workplace — juggling responsibilities at home and at work, spending quality time with their kids, and trying to create a sensible work/life balance in the bargain, so that they are not burnt out during their professional career span.

While in manyorganizations, women do face the added pressure of discrimination and gender bias at work;Shyni as a true leader and being part of the executive leadership grouphas never allowed or faced a situation at KnowledgeHut wherea male and a female in the same role are perceived differentlybe it within her team or across the organization.Many of the teams she has led in the past decade were comprised of a majority of women… if not all women…and they worked well as a cohesive unit to drive positive business outcomes and results. 

While she has no complaints about the salary scale at KnowledgeHut, which is completely merit-and-capability based, in many other companies there is a very real wage gap and women often earn anywhere between 33 - 75% of what men in a similar position take home. Even today, shefeels,the higher up the ladder you climb, thefewerwomen you will find than actually deserve to belong there! She consciously does all she can to reverse this push down trend.

In her own experience,she finds thatwomen bring their inherent traits of compassion and understanding to the table, and empathy is a critical skill for leaders in any domain.

Shyni has always leveraged her emotional quotient towards her team and empathy towards customers, which is a key differentiator as a woman leader apart from the usual leadership strengths of creative thinking and problem solving.

"Leading by example is the way to go—and bycreating more awareness, andincreasing the numbers of women at middle and senior management levels, workplaces worldwide will be moving in the right direction to create a more gender diverse culture," is Shyni's take away on the subject.

This year, let’s all #ChooseToChallenge gender bias and inequality. Together, we can create a world that’s inclusive and celebrates women, not just those in leadership roles, but in every role!

More power to all women, all over the world. 

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KnowledgeHut

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KnowledgeHut is an outcome-focused global ed-tech company. We help organizations and professionals unlock excellence through skills development. We offer training solutions under the people and process, data science, full-stack development, cybersecurity, future technologies and digital transformation verticals.