How Can We Create More Leadership Opportunities for Women?
Female representation on company boards is improving, but there is still a way to go before equal representation is achieved.
According to Catalyst, the global non-profit dedicated to creating workplaces that support women, only 26.1% of US companies had a female directorship. Meanwhile, most companies had at least some female representation on their boards, but over half of the companies only had 1–2% of their board represented by women.
The organization argues that for businesses to see the benefits of a diverse board, at least three members should be women. So how can you increase female representation at the highest level in your business?
Here, we’ll discuss some measures you can take to improve your business’ diversity and offer leadership opportunities to the women in your business.
When it comes to senior hires, many businesses will look outwardly and choose a candidate with experience at the required level. But you could be missing a trick there. Internal hires offer many benefits, and one of the biggest is that they know your company inside out. While they’ll benefit from some support as they transition into a more senior position, they won’t need training on your company policies, goals, or systems.
This will be especially helpful when it comes to increasing your female leadership representation because the pool of external candidates will likely be male-dominated. Considering candidates with the right expertise instead of prioritizing those with board experience will help – your female customer services manager will likely have more of the right knowledge to become your global customer services director instead of another director-level hire with limited experience in this area.
Women get promoted within their companies at a lower rate than men. Supporting the women in your business into more senior roles will show your staff members that you’re committed to gender equality in the workplace.
Take part in leadership training programs
Because the existing pool of directorate and board-level candidates is still made up of mostly men, women are finding it hard to break through the glass ceiling and achieve a leadership role without experience. As well as tapping into your existing employee base when looking at high-level hires, you can offer leadership training programs that will equip your employees with the extra skills and knowledge they need to be successful at the top of your company.
Offering these programs is not only a great way to increase diversity at the top of your business, but it can also act as a great hiring tactic. If your potential new employees know that there are progression opportunities at your business alongside training to help them get there, your business will be a much more attractive place to work.
Tap into existing networks
Catalyst is one of many organizations that aims to help women in the workplace. There are a number of membership networks that you could tap into not only to seek out top female talent but also to help your female employees progress in their careers.
The American Business Women’s Association offers educational and networking opportunities that allow women to grow personally and professionally. Its goal is to prepare women for leadership positions, and it partners with general leadership groups to offer specific opportunities for women. Partnering with an organization like this can complement your leadership training to offer a rounded experience for your female employees with leadership ambitions.
The women-led company Seramount has been carrying out research since 1979 with the aim of advancing diversity in the workplace. It has a strong focus on gender diversity and each year publishes a list of the best companies for women in the US to work at. It partners with businesses to help them improve their diversity and equality through developing tailored programs.
Female representation at the executive and board levels is improving in the US, but we still haven’t reached a state of gender equality in the workplace. By implementing these tips, you can improve your board diversity while offering leadership opportunities to your existing female employees.