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Women in leadership: improving the gender balance
It stands to reason: more women in leadership roles can lead to a higher intake of female applications and improve the organisations that they worked within. However, as an example, based on the Law Society statistics from the approximate number of 30,000 partners in private practice, only 28% are women, while 72% are men. Gender inequality is still an issue, even though it has been proven that a diverse and inclusive workforce is a huge advantage to organisations.
So what can be done to help get more women into leadership roles, and do organisations need to re-evaluate their learning and development (L&D) programs?
Here are key tips to help more women get into leadership roles:
- Allow more women to have a voice in your organisation
- Encourage internal conversations with senior management
- Educate all employees on interactions with colleagues and personal development
- Implement C-suite training on recruitment, attaining talent, and diversifying teams
- Encourage open, honest dialogue of reports with their managers
A great starting point would be for organisations to revaluate their L&D programmes to incorporate training on the points covered above.
Mentoring is an important development tool for anyone, and more female-to-female mentoring can make a real difference for those on the leadership pathway. Mentoring can encourage and give confidence but in many cases, the glass ceiling still exists. This can be a complex discussion point, with many variables, but narrowed down, the obstacles normally contain these four areas:
- A lack of inclusive promotion from within
- Little of no development of female employees
- A small number of female mentors
- A lack of education regarding diversity.
Flexibility can be an interesting topic. As an example, more and more candidates are asking whether in-house is more flexible than private practice and it was in fact, the number one question searched throughout in 2018. The frustrating answer to this hot topic is that flexibility completely depends on the business and their approach to culture – it is not sector specific and it certainly should not be considered a gender-weighted practice.
Flexibility is completely subjective – there is no approach per sector.
There are fairly antiquated responses and views of flexibility traditionally, that it relates directly to working from home.
There is an increased shift towards high trust, high performance environments and the ‘presenteeism’ attitude of old is decidedly less attractive. Typically, people want to be in the office with their colleagues and business stakeholders, so what a lack of flexibility actually represents is a perceived lack of trust. Businesses need to think about what the culture of an inflexible work environment implies about their attitude towards their employees and how this makes their staff feel.
More must be done in to help improve the gender balance within most industries and professions, particularly at the senior level. Having women in key leadership roles inspires others, and brings additional benefits. One of these benefits is that having more women in leadership roles will normalise the ideal – the more women we see at C-suite/partnership level, the more ordinary it will feel to those at the beginning of their careers, both men and women, working their way through the ranks.
Education at all levels is key to this shift. With education, we need to change the dialogue relating to flexibility. Flexibility is not a gender-specific topic nor does it directly link to low performance, it relates to high trust. Addressing these key areas will bring a strong and natural balance to the structure of a business, breed positivity, and promote an open culture that drives success.
To discuss how we can help you find the right people for your business, get in touch with Page Personnel today.