A push to increase females into leadership roles has led to the companies doing so achieving an increase in performance, stability and even ROI. Statistics aside, businesses are still doing very little to recruit or even progress women employees into managerial positions. The number of females in senior roles throughout the UK has declined year on year, from 21% to 19%, the second lowest in Europe and fifth lowest globally. How can businesses turn this around?
Do women make great leaders?
This question needs to be answered before rolling out a strategy that will not improve a business. The answer however is yes, women do and research has shown that they in fact make better leaders than males.
The study assessed approximately 3,000 managers and was led by Professor yvind L. Martinsen, Head of Leadership and Organisational Behaviour at the BI Norwegian Business School. Women outperformed men in four of the five categories: initiative and clear communication, openness and ability to innovate, sociability and supportiveness and methodical management and goal-setting. The category which men performed better at was dealing with work-related stress and emotional stability.
The results show that women can make great leaders, arguably even more so than men. The categories women were stronger in are people focused and based on the ability to manage employees, not oneself. Females within senior positions tend to have to juggle other priorities outside of work too i.e. being a mother, and with the UK national pay gap at 10%, women are not receiving the financial reward for the work they do either. Women feel they must continue to prove themselves to be fit for a managerial role, without receiving benefits of doing so.
Look to the past to plan for the future
Women throughout history have proved to be strong powerful figures that innovate, support and achieve their goals the traits that a true leader possesses.
Brook Street's own great successes and achievements would not have occurred without Margery Hurst, the founder. In 1946 Margery was a single mother who went on to built an international organisation from just a £50 loan from the bank, an idea and the drive to succeed.
Margery Hurst defied the expectations of women in the 1940s, bringing up a child alone and setting up a business that less than 30 years later was operating in the USA and Australia too. The 'First Lady' of Brook Street proved that women can lead a business; despite the obstacles they are faced, determination will never hold them back.
It is safe to say that Theresa May is a controversial PM and one that is hotly debated over. When David Cameron resigned on 24th June, Theresa May was not afraid to take on the challenges that had been left in the wake of Brexit. Much can be said about her and the policies she supports, however the fact that she was the only candidate not to pull out once David Cameron announced his resignation shows this woman's drive to be PM and bravery in knowing what she would have to face next.
Ada Lovelace has been heralded as the prophet of the computer age and even the first programmer due to her theories regarding how engines can function without the required of using quantifiable rules. Lovelace was not a leader however; this shift from calculation to computation found in her theory shows that women should not be overlooked and that they are innovators.
Change starts from the top
It's evident that women possess the character traits that are necessary not only to be a great manager but to achieve success in an organisation. There might be concerns and stigmas surrounding females but these outdated stereotypes have been disproved and need to be dispelled within businesses. This can be achieved through a top-down strategy, building a senior team that is not gender biased, promoting women workers from within and using women to recruit women.
Always be mindful not to overshadow male employees. Be fair and do not lead people to believe that promotions, development and recruitment is based on gender, not on merit and work.
Learn more about how you can run an efficient diverse workforce and increase your productivity and profit in the latest issue of our Focus.