We're living in a third-wave feminism movement; everywhere we turn, successful and empowering women surround us.
Women are powerful agents of change, and the far-reaching benefits of diversity and gender parity in leadership and decision-making are increasingly recognized in all spheres. Still, women continue to be vastly under-represented in decision-making in politics, businesses, and communities.
What is Leadership?
Every organization needs a leader, irrespective of its size and functions. A leaderless organization is a "muddle of men and machine"; a country without leadership is anarchy; a society without leadership is a violent and dangerous place to live. Then, what is the meaning of leadership? What constitutes leadership?
A leader is a person who influences and encourages a group of people to work towards the realization of goals. The hallmark of leadership is the capacity to influence others towards accomplishing goals and towards betterment. As Chester Barnard sums it up, “Leadership is the ability of a superior to influence the behavior of subordinates or group and persuades them to follow a particular course of action.”
Leadership is not gender-specific. It is a set of leadership qualities inherent or cultivated in person or persons who develop themselves into great leaders with a mass following. Leaders can be either men or women.
Although leadership skills are acquired and shown by both men and women, there exist certain differences in the basic traits and qualities possessed by men and women leaders. Men and women mostly show distinctly different styles of leadership
Women leaders are more transformational than men leaders. They function as a role model for their subordinates. They inspire their team and spend a lot of time coaching their team. They care a lot about their personal development. Women leaders emphasize teamwork and authentic communication as a key to success. For most women leaders, leadership is not meant only for accomplishing organizational goals but for transforming their followers into better people. Here are 11 reasons why you need more:
Reasons why we need more women leaders
1. The company performs better
There have been several studies that have suggested that women-led companies out-perform those led by men. Perhaps most notably, an analysis from Quantopian, a Boston-based trading firm, found that between 2002 and 2014, companies with women in control saw returns that were 226% higher.
Research: Investing in Women-led Fortune 1000 Companies
There have also been multiple streams of evidence to suggest that companies that have women in executive positions performed far better, and generated stronger market returns.
Take the Credit Suisse research report as an example; it found that companies with females in decision-making positions generated superior profits than those without. So, in short, women-led companies perform much better.
You might be wondering where you, as an employee, fit into this. We’d say it’s essential that you enter into a company that is performing well. This ensures that you make the most of your time there, and can make your way up that hypothetical “ladder.”
A company that isn’t performing well might lead to laying off their workers or downgrading the types of roles available. On the contrary, in a company that performs well, you’ll be more likely to get promotions, raises and be given a position that best suits your abilities and skills.
A high-performing company is in the best interest of everybody and you’ll be more likely to join one led by women.
2. Communication is better
As an employee, communication is vital to your satisfaction. If your employers don’t communicate or engage with you, they won’t know the highs and lows, or your struggles and passions. Even just acknowledging where you are skilled, and where you might need improvement can drastically change your work-life. Without that necessary communication with your employer, you’ll find yourself feeling alone, and demotivated.
A real-time HR insights platform, Peakon, worked with hundreds of organizations all around the world, to gather and analyze employee feedback. This was carried out to improve employee engagement and improve work-life.
Their recent findings revealed that women-led companies are evidently thriving in areas like communication and autonomy whereas male-led companies aren’t doing as well, relatively.
This meant that employees were able to understand an organization’s mission much better. This enabled them to work together to achieve goals.
It also revealed that women-led companies were much more effective at inspiring belief in their services and products, resulting in employee engagement that doesn’t compare to male-led companies. Another point which we feel we need to make is that Peakon regularly surveys employees, on various different categories. For instance, relationships, cultural fit, employee growth, and workload. Not one of these areas did male leaders surpass women leaders.
Though every company is unique, and gender might not be the driving force. It still seems to be compelling evidence to support women-led companies. Especially as an employee.
3. Employee turnover is much lower
We talked briefly about performance. So, women-led companies out-perform male-led companies. However, we feel that turnover is a definitive marker of success.
If a company is excellent to work for, employees wouldn’t be leaving.
Success can be defined in many ways, and women-led companies seem to help you be successful, as well as building up their company.
Having women in senior positions will ultimately lead to companies making more money and reduce the turnover of employees.
When looking for a new job, it’s always important to check out the turnover in a company. If it seems to be a bit high, there could be a reason for this. After all, people don’t leave jobs in a heartbeat.
Reasons, why a turnover could be high, are:
- The job description isn’t accurate
- The pay is too low
- The company isn’t making enough money
- The company doesn’t look after its employees
Obviously, all of these reasons aren’t desirable. From a success point of view, companies want to keep their best workers – this way they can continue to grow their company, rather than looking for new talent along the way.
A large U.S. tech company wanted to improve its high turnover rate or both female and male employees. They decided on promotion two females to executive positions – and the result was a company whose employees didn’t leave at such a high rate.
This is something that should definitely encourage your decision. You don’t want to find a new job, only to find yourself back on the job-hunting market again.
4. Diversity is good for everybody and every company
After the financial crisis, the world and employees seemed to have a lack of trust with the male leaders. A company that employs women, as well as others from all different backgrounds, races and education will perform miracles on a company.
As this post is predominately focused on women, we’ll focus directly on gender diversity. First and foremost, they stand out in all statistical and logical aspects.
Research has shown the apparent link between gender diversity and productivity, higher employee retention, employee satisfaction, and greater decision making.
For these reasons, gender diversity should be one of the most important things to look out for when you’re looking for a new job. At the end of the day, it will ultimately affect how much you enjoy and progress in your career.
From a business standpoint, diversity also makes a company more respected, profitable and innovative. Fortune’s “most admired” companies have twice as many women in executive positions than companies that are considered less reputable.
Admittedly, it isn’t necessarily proven that women are ‘better’ at running a business. That all depends on the individual. However, the evidence does show that diversity, especially gender diversity, really elevated a company.
It goes without saying; a diverse, and unique set of influences from all decision-making levels makes a big difference. A company that has an overwhelmingly white, straight, male presence will ultimately seem out-of-touch and might even result in making controversial decisions.
We’ve all seen it – a company that is just begging for a woman’s touch. An advert that needed a woman’s opinion. A campaign that could have avoided disastrous consequences if there was a woman in the boardroom.
Diversity improves a company, and employees. It’s a win-win situation.
5. Gender diversity is desirable, from all fronts
A company led by women is more beneficial to employees. 50% of all Americans say that they would prefer to work at a female-led company over a male-led one.
The reason for this was revealed by Berlin Cameron, The Harris Poll, and The Female Quotient. The company appears to be more purpose-driven, more likely to have access to childcare, more like to offer equal pay and just all-around more understanding.
Millennials in particular place a high level of importance on work culture. They want to work somewhere that embraces individuality, champions different values and has a lot of compassion. This is something they feel they will get in women-led companies.
Not only that, having a woman in a senior position is inspiring – to both men and women. They feel like they can also achieve a leadership role, as the company obviously embraces individuality, diversity and chooses people based on skill and hard work for high up positions.
So, how does this affect you as a potential employee? As we mentioned, work culture is essential. If you’re employed by a female-led company, you’ll be more likely to have all the benefits of free work life, as well as being surrounded by great co-workers.
Think about it, if you applied for this job for all the perks and opportunities, so did your co-workers. Meaning you’ll be surrounded by people who will motivate and embrace you.
6. Women as better leaders
We’ve looked at all the benefits that women can bring to a company. This predominately focused around money and progress. Of course, these are two crucial parts of being triumphant but what about working for a woman?
Here we list all the qualities that women have. Side note: these are general claims and not every woman will possess these qualities, and some men might also possess them.
As with every post, take this with a pinch of salt.
7. They’re Better problem solvers
With more women, and diversity in general, in a team, problems will be solved with ease.
Diversity in people leads to diversity in thought; this benefits businesses beyond belief.
Every day a company will run into a problem, whether it’s big or small, and different brains in a team will allow every issue to be solved, that would have proved to be difficult in a group with not much diversity. Different women, from different backgrounds, all have unique experiences. They will look at an issue in a completely different way to what a male may look at it.
Hiring women for leadership roles is really just a stepping stone to a much more effective team.
8. They are trusted more
Again, this is a stereotype, but it is definitely worth mentioning. Pew’s “Women and Leadership” survey revealed that 34% of women are better at being honest and ethical, compared to the 3% that say men are better at it. Public Says Women are Equally Qualified, but Barriers Persist
This little survey might not be taken as great evidence, but it is definitely worth discussing.
As an employee, you might agree or disagree with this statement. However, from a professional standpoint, working for a company that can be trusted by customers, clients, and other businesses should be in your interest. Not only this, but companies are often faced with decisions that might not be ethical. Trust that the company you work for will lead honestly and ethically is essential. Maybe even just for peace of mind.
9. They make better mentors
Another study from Pew Research found that women made better mentors when compared to men.
What Men and Women Bring to Business Leadership
As an employee, you should be looking at those that lead the company as your mentors. You should be able to trust that they will make decisions with you in mind, and allow you to grow in your career. Your primary interest is to progress, and a fantastic mentor will allow you to do this. This will be somebody who will guide you, be honest with you, and provide you with valuable skills that will aid you in your life. Similarly, great mentors do not judge you, and they help you to achieve your dreams. If you feel like a woman-led company will provide you with this, over a male-led one, then maybe you should begin your job search with looking at executives.
10. They’re more collaborative
This basically means that they are better at making deals, and collaborating more with others than men.
This was proven by none other than Harvard University Students, looking at the Senate. It showed that women are much better at working together, making deals and passing bills.
The study found that the average female senator co-sponsored 6.29 bills, while the average male senator co-sponsored 4.07 bills.
This expands way past the Senate and politics, though. This is also true in small start-ups, medium-sized businesses and large companies. Whatever is true for politics, usually can be mirrored in real life.
Again, this should appeal to you as an employee as this can make a big difference in your work life, and your progression.
11. They’re more educated
Perhaps this is linked to the third-wave feminist movement, or women finally being granted more freedom. Whatever the reason, modern women are now much more educated than men.
There has been debate as to why this is. Many have settled on the fact that women need to work harder for the same roles, or need to prove themselves more. While this might be true, it is still great news for you, as an employee.
A more professional company will make better decisions, introduce new techniques, and use innovative business approaches to allow their business to grow.
If women are more educated, they are absolutely critical to new businesses. Even the very fact that they would have had to work so much harder to be in that position should appeal to you.
What is the gender-diversity effect?
Some gender differences can be explained by neurological differences between men and women.
A concept that is known as sexual dimorphism, which is the difference between neural connectivity suggests that males are structured to facilitate perception and coordinated action. On the other hands, women’s brains are structured so that they communicate through analytical and intuition factors. In less scientific terms, this means that men are wired to take action, whereas women are more suited to analyzing and solving a problem.
For a business, both of these qualities are necessary which only emphasizes the need for gender diversity in a company. The impact of putting women in charge regardless of whether you believe these are generalized claims, the benefits are evident.
Having females in senior roles will solve many problems in the world of gender discrimination. This means issues like the gender pay gap, recruitment, promotion, and retention could be resolved.
This should be in every single employee’s best interest, whether you are male or female. As a community, we all thrive when one person thrives.
Businesses like The Word Point have started regularly diversifying their management positions. Kimberly McKenzie, who is the company’s Head of Content has noted that gender diversification has brought considerable benefits, and those aren’t just related to revenue. She told us that since women started occupying more and more managerial positions, the perceived job security has increased, and employees started feeling that the company is progressing.
A company which is rich in diversity should allow you to recognize that you can be your true self, and work hard towards senior roles yourself. It’s this type of encouragement that every single company should strive to have.
As a company, you might want to start considering hiring more women in leadership roles, especially after all the evidence suggest that you absolutely should. It could enable you to solve some of the HR challenges that your business might be facing.
Take this quiz to see just how strong your HR game is, and find your true HR personality. It could lead you in the right direction, whether this is more women CEOs or not.
As an employee, we would absolutely recommend that you look for a company with strong, empowering leaders. You want to be welcomed into a company that will not only make you feel comfortable but one that will push you and help you to achieve all your professional and personal goals.
View Tinotenda Sibanda's full profile