It is a well-documented fact that there is serious gender imbalance in the workplace. Despite more women entering the labor market, they still make up only a fraction of the total workforce in many industries and among top executives, women account for only a miniscule portion of the total.
Hiring more women is not just about diversity, it is good for the bottom line as well. Research shows that gender-diverse teams outperform male-dominated teams in terms of productivity, organizational effectiveness and financial health.
Considering these benefits, why are there fewer women in the workplace? For one thing, the workplace in most industries is a male-dominated area where women have to struggle to make a mark. Women are also constrained by their own lack of confidence, lack of support from their peers, and the challenge of building a career while raising a family.
Business leaders, especially women in top ranks, can take some proactive steps to alleviate these gender specific issues and make the road a little smoother for the next generation of female leaders.
Work with female employees to develop confidence: Studies show that men feel comfortable applying for jobs when they only meet 60 percent of the qualifications, but women will not apply unless they meet all of them. Women also tend to underestimate their capabilities — especially when it comes to asking for a promotion. As a leader, you can help your female employees gain confidence by soliciting their opinions in meetings and encouraging them to apply for promotions.
Help female employees create a road map: While male employees create an outline of their career plan and inform their higher ups without reservation, female employee are less open on the details of their long-term plans.
Business leaders need to take a more active role in their employees’ career development by communicating to them that you want to help them get where they want to go.
Build networks of ‘power women’: Organize leadership events designed to help nurture and support women in business. Being able to talk to other women directors and CEOs can be incredibly valuable for women professionals, and these types of networks can be a game changer for women at all levels.
Support women with families: The best thing any leader can do to help working moms is to encourage all employees to make decisions that are best for their families. Flexible schedules and the option to work remotely will help mothers on your payroll to become more effective in the roles.