Women in Leadership
Addressing the Development Needs of Women in Leadership: Fostering Gender Equality in Corporate, Business, and Entrepreneurship
Women have long been under-represented in leadership positions across various sectors, including corporate, business, and entrepreneurship. Whilst progress has been made, there remains an urgent need to address the imbalance in skills development, opportunities, and growth for women in these domains.
I feel that we need to make more effort into highlighting the importance of empowering women in leadership, considering the lack of opportunities, work-life balance challenges, inadequate policies, and prevalent stereotypes that hinder their progress. I also realise that the area that we need to spend more time on, is exploring strategies to challenge systematic change and foster a more inclusive and positive environment without undermining the contributions of men.
Imbalance in Skills Development and Opportunities
One crucial area of concern is definitely the imbalance in skills development for women in leadership roles. Why give someone a title without the Power and Authority to actually succeed in that role? Historically, women have faced limited access to quality education and professional training, resulting in a significant skills gap. That is obvious. So what next then? Addressing this gap through targeted programs, mentorship, and training opportunities is vital for women to develop the necessary competencies and confidence to succeed in leadership positions. Courageous conversations are an imperative. We need to have Men AND Women sitting around the table and discussing the adjustments needed in policies, HR procedures and access to training, where it is solution focussed and intentional in driving progress.
It is a reality, that women often encounter a lack of opportunities for advancement and promotion. Glass ceilings created from self-limiting beliefs and stagnating mindsets, as well as gender biases prevent them from accessing higher-level positions, despite their qualifications and capabilities. Closing this gap requires proactive measures such as implementing gender quotas, creating transparent promotion policies, and fostering a culture that values merit and diversity.
So here is my take on the Glass Ceiling effect!:
"Glass is see through, transparent and can be shattered! So what is stopping you, except for the self-limiting beliefs in your own mindset!"
Whether you are a man or woman, who do you blame for your lack of success? Think about it. What resources do you need to move forward, step up or step out of your current situation? Self-awareness, development and personal growth, will always remain exactly that - SELF making choices that works in YOUR favour!
There are phenomenal women making incredible waves and in-roads into many industries. They are pushing boundaries and inspiring many to follow. They uplift and challenge the status quo through their results, not their excuses. YES, we all go through tough times, bullying, narcistic co-workers even partners. Yet, we have the ability to reach out and connect, collaborate and grow into the life we deserve.
Choose to learn from the people who are positive influences and choose not to become a victim of the age old, worn out excuse of the glass ceiling effect. If you want to, there is always going to be naysayers if you are looking for them. Why not invest your precious time in real life motivation, influence and impact being guided by people who actually ooze compassion and are willing to share their tools and techniques for YOU to succeed. It is always going to be a choice.
Work-Life Balance and Inconsistent Policies
I would have thought that this subject was exhausted by now and yet, it is needed now more than ever. That is highly concerning. Achieving work-life balance is another crucial factor in supporting women's advancement in leadership roles. Traditional gender roles and societal expectations often place a disproportionate burden on women in terms of caregiving responsibilities. The lack of flexible work arrangements, parental leave policies, and affordable childcare options further exacerbate these challenges.
Encouraging a supportive work environment
that promotes flexible scheduling, remote work options, and family-friendly policies is essential for retaining and promoting women in leadership positions.
There are also incredibly talented single women who also need a supportive work environment when it comes to careful consideration, acknowledgement for the extra effort they put in, compared to some co-workers and yet, it is expected of them. Their lifestyles and life choices, also need to be a part of their negotiations. They should not be limited in having an input during the creation of policies, just because they do not have children or a family to take care of. Many suffer from burnout and lack self-care, because they are also expected to work longer and harder. That alone is a form of discrimination.
Other areas to consider when talking about work-life balance, is inconsistent policies that do not adequately protect women in the workplace contribute to their underrepresentation in leadership. Issues such as pay gaps, gender-based discrimination, and inadequate mechanisms for reporting and addressing harassment remain prevalent. Implementing and enforcing robust anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, as well as promoting pay equity, are necessary steps toward creating a fair and inclusive environment that supports women's growth.
Stereotypes and Stigma
Another significant barrier is the persistence of stereotypes and stigma surrounding powerful women, particularly in male-dominated work environments. Society often holds pre-conceived notions about the qualities and behaviours expected of women in leadership roles, perpetuating the notion that they are less competent or assertive than their male counterparts.
Challenging these stereotypes and fostering an inclusive culture that values diverse perspectives and leadership styles is crucial. That is why Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs are an imperative. We need to break down “old way of thinking” and infuse the work environment with lively, refreshing, current thinking. The world is changing dramatically. We need to keep up with content that is relevant.
Systematic Change and Positive Engagement
Addressing the developmental needs of women in leadership requires a systematic change that acknowledges and dismantles the barriers they face. To foster gender equality, organizations must prioritize diversity and inclusion as core values, ensuring that decision-making processes include a variety of perspectives. This can be achieved by implementing inclusive hiring practices, establishing mentoring programs, and providing leadership development opportunities specifically tailored to women.
Reverse mentoring is another powerful system to integrate into the professional work environment. Think about it, everyone wins. What I also love about it, is that we have a process, where Men and Women share their expertise and get comfortable asking for help without fear of repercussions or feeling belittled. The point is, that they get to learn with each other and from each other.
We have dumbed ourselves down so much with the Gender Equality conversations, which ultimately became one sided, that we have isolated Men in these conversations.
I always say:
“Women Empowerment deserves Empowered Men to walk alongside them on this journey and to unite and collaborate for each other’s success!”
How can we have meaningful conversations, if it is just Women in the room? Who are they going to address and ask for changes, challenge policies and realign a new way of thinking once they leave that room? Won’t it include Men? I am just saying, that a collaborative, respectful way of engaging, is much more powerful and fast tracks progress in the face of adversity. Better together, rather than alone.
Additionally, challenging systematic change should involve raising awareness and educating stakeholders about the benefits of gender equality in leadership. This includes engaging men as allies in the process. Recognizing and appreciating the valuable contributions men make to women's empowerment is essential in fostering a collaborative and supportive environment. Creating platforms for open dialogue and shared learning experiences can help build bridges and promote understanding between genders.
The Way forward
Let’s unite and have intentional engagements to understand how we can all add value to realigning the imbalance in skills development, opportunities, and growth that is crucial for achieving gender equality in corporate, business, and entrepreneurship. By providing women with equal access to education, training, and advancement opportunities, promoting work-life balance, implementing consistent policies, challenging stereotypes and instilling Values Based Leadership Programs, my question is this:
How much more simple can it get?
That is why, as the Ki Leadership team, we have invested in bringing Internationally accredited programs that are specifically designed to bring entire teams together, to grow, encourage and support each other in the professional work environment.
We realise that not all programs can do a deep dive into such a huge subject without causing animosity, more challenges and frustration That is why, we continuously improve and seek unusual approaches, that are guaranteed to sustain change in a positive way, whilst being in line with global best practices.
Our flagship program – Values Based Leadership which ensures Sustainable Personal Development, is one such program that can be implemented throughout the entire organisation and adds massive value to realigning the human behavioural issues that need to be addressed, in a compassionate way.
I would love to entice you, to reach out and connect with us to find out more.
What do you have to lose?
+27 (0)72 439 4220
+27 (0)79 823 4739