Blog

Why Women Leaders Matter

by Cyndi Sax
on 2016-04-06

Gender equality isn’t a new issue. It has long been argued that women are not afforded the same opportunities as men. While we are seeing improvements with respect to gender representation in the business world, progress has been slow.

Forbes recently published an article with research suggesting that companies with more women in senior-level leadership roles improve their reputation and attract an influx of better candidates.

The Gender Forward Pioneer (GFP) Index discovered that only about 11% of senior leaders at top companies around the world are women. However, they found that companies with better reputations had closer to 17% female representation in senior leader roles.

Higher levels of diversity lead to higher levels of admiration—both among clients and among employees.

But the struggle for female representation is a two-phased challenge. First, a company has to make a commitment to seeking out and securing women in senior leadership positions.  Then, they have to empower women to remain in those high-level roles.

Fortune published an article last month titled, “What It Will Take to Keep More Women in the Corporate World.” In this piece, they note that women often enter the workforce self-assured and ambitious, only to have their confidence tested and their potential unrealized.

According to Fortune, the most challenging time in a woman’s career tends to be in the second decade, around the age of 30. Companies are frequently setting higher expectations for mid-level employees, and women are trying to gain more responsibility at work while striving to balance the ever-increasing demands they often experience in their personal lives.

It’s up to each organization to support female employees by offering coaching and development programs that will equip them and empower them to confidently start down a leadership path.

Why? Because women leaders won’t just improve a company’s reputation, they can improve a company’s performance.

Research shows that successful women leaders tend to possess many of the qualities typically considered to be “male” leadership traits, such as a straightforward communications style, an action orientation, a willingness to take risks, and complex problem-solving skills. In addition, the women leaders who participated in this study demonstrated resilience as well as high levels of energy and empathy, qualities which enable them to better understand their direct reports and colleagues, bounce back after setbacks or rejection, and persevere over the long term.

In short, women leaders not only possess traits that have been traditionally associated with successful leadership, they demonstrate additional behaviors that will equip them to succeed when they encounter resistance or other obstacles that women in today’s World of Work often face.

If companies embrace girl power now, they’ll benefit from the power of women leaders in the future.

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To read more about Caliper’s research into women in leadership roles, click here.