Believe it or not, the number of women in leadership roles is increasing fast. Women at the helm of affairs at YouTube, Lockheed Martin, IBM, General Motors, Oracle, Bumble, and others testify to this. More women are at the top of Fortune 500 companies today than were at any point in the history of Fortune 500.
All this may seem rosy from the point of view of women’s empowerment, but when it is seen in context, women are running just 6.4% of such companies. Still, women are subjected to gender bias, inequity, and the pay gap in business.
However, there are advantages of women in business too. They make a diverse workforce, making it innovative. The diversity ranges from gender to culture, race, and age. From L’Oreal to Disney and Facebook, industries across sectors seek to place in order and benefit from a diverse and inclusive work culture. Men and women certainly have different backgrounds and experiences that help to shape their approach to any business. Challenging each other and, at the same time, collaborating with people with different thoughts can help breed creativity and promote innovative ideas that take an organization forward.
Another advantage for women is their excellent soft skills, which are a must for success in business leadership today. Technical knowledge and skill form the basis of one’s success in a career, but soft skills are also necessary professional attributes. While you cannot measure characteristics like empathy, effective communication, and self-awareness, these qualities can make a significant difference in the end. Recent studies have drawn parallels between the strength of character and business performance. Emotional intelligence and soft skills may be a competitive advantage for women in business. A study undertaken by global consulting firm Hay Group revealed that women outclass men in 11 of 12 key emotional intelligence competencies.
Women also signify significant economic power, and this offers vital consumer insight. It is estimated that women contribute more than $20 trillion in consumer spending every year, which is more than the growth market of China and India combined. They also comprise 85% of consumer purchases. Notwithstanding this, only 11% of creative directors in advertising are women. A comprehensive study by Boston Consulting Group of the “female economy” found that women feel undervalued and underserved by the marketplace. Keeping the female consumer power in mind, it’s evident that women are more likely to tap into that opportunity and get valued consumer understanding to the table. Tapping into the knowledge that both men and women offer can make products and services more marketable and profitable businesses.
The most prominent challenge women face in business is that they are still underrepresented in required fields. Of late, several industries are showing trends of a growing female workforce; sectors like finance, engineering, and tech are still male-dominated. In STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries, women make up just 24% of the workforce in the United States and less than 15% in the United Kingdom.
Underrepresentation of women could be down due to the label that interest in “hard science” is unfeminine. However, with jobs in STEM projected to be among the fastest growing and best paid, it’s essential that women feel empowered and become skilled to embrace the opportunities afforded by a career in science, tech, and related fields. Several organizations, such as the National Girls Collaborative Project and Girls Who Code, are working to inspire women to pursue computer sciences and engineering and close the gender gap in STEM industries.
Many forward-thinking organizations are making gender equality a matter of policy, irrespective of whether it’s committing to hiring diverse officers or equal representation of women in the boardroom. Organizations can reap the benefits of gender equality and balance by rejecting and evading bias through hiring policies. Businesses can thrive better if they adopt these policies and incorporate them into their business strategy instead of political correctness, inclusiveness, diversity, and gender equality.
Committing to things like equitable, inclusive company culture, gender representation, and work-life balance also helps organizations attract top talent. It is not for nothing that companies like Salesforce, General Electric, and Deloitte are considered excellent workplaces for both women and men.
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