As we look upon International Women’s Day 2017 and with the news that the gender parity is still many generations away, let’s discuss ways to make the wait regarding leadership a little shorter.
The difficulties for women to “break through the glass ceiling” and the perpetual inequality in pay and positions of power within organisations is a continuous topic of discussion.
Even with the increased awareness of these issues and the push for equality in pay and position, the problem of an insignificant number of women in leadership roles persists. Many companies are making a point of promoting and supporting women, but their efforts appear to be having little effect.
While there is training to increase skills there are still several invisible blockages that can decrease the number of women in the leadership pipeline. Unless these are addressed, it is going to remain difficult for women to make their way into higher roles.
Some women fear that employers will see them as distracted or unreliable if they attempt to combine leadership with motherhood and therefore, don’t rate themselves, or are not willing to take the plunge and accept or seek greater responsibility as a result. Self-doubt and a fear of failure can also be a personal road block to step up and to move forward, regardless of your level.
We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead. - Beyonce
Organisations and CEO’s, female's in particular, can empower women to not impose their own barriers, nurture and encourage and ultimately achieve their full potential, to the benefit of all. Female leaders not only impact the culture and strategic direction in a company but can also improve the bottom line, as identified in this study by Catalyst.
Here are three important yet simple ways to empower women into leadership:
Family friendly policies
Having a child should never stop anyone from pursuing their career goals.
A flexible workplace culture where families come first and work life balance is encouraged. One that acknowledges both men and women have commitments and passions outside of the workplace, is a great place to start.
With the right employer and options such as flexible working hours, the opportunity to work from home and, in the perfect world, onsite childcare, open careers up to both men and women. It will also confirm well-rounded women who balance work and family are welcome at any level, with any degree of responsibility, in the hierarchy of your organisation.
Mentoring and leadership programs
When self- imposed doubts are one of the major blocks to career advancement, mentoring programs led by women who are proving gender is no barrier to leadership is one of the most effective tools to empower women. Women are very comfortable when learning from mentors and following in the footsteps of positive role models who have proven the goal is achievable.
But don’t just create the programs. Follow through by placing women into leadership positions.
Don’t just talk the talk – take real action and demonstrate your commitment to change.
Include your men
The whole point of this effort is inclusion, so don’t be exclusive when it comes to creating and implementing programs for women. Men need to understand what women are facing (and men could be facing some of the same barriers too), and they can’t do that from the outside. Get them involved and make them part of the solution rather than part of the problem. They have a lot to contribute and, when they are valued as part of the process, they’ll be committed to making it work.
Our focus at Athena Coaching is to accelerate your success and help you achieve measurable and fast results. If the mentors and leadership programs you need to get ahead don’t exist in your organisation, let us fill that gap. Contact us to arrange an obligation free consultation to discuss how we can remove the barriers and empower you to achieve your best.