Why Everyone Wins With More Women In Leadership
By Solomon Amar
The future is female. Research shows that companies with more women on their boards outperform those without by a significant margin, and organizations with greater gender diversity among senior leaders are more profitable. Yet despite significant progress, the proportion of women in senior management roles globally grew to 32% in 2022—the highest number ever recorded. Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions.
The reality is we need more women in leadership positions. It’s not just good for women—it’s good for business. Let’s take a closer look at why.
The Advantages Of Having Women Leaders In Business
A diverse workforce is an innovative workforce.
Diversity in all its forms—from gender to culture to age to race—inspires new ideas and fosters innovation. Often, men and women will approach business differently due to their varied life experiences. Different perspectives offer different lenses of growth and attract diverse talent. For a business to thrive, an environment of open, accountable communication and execution is vital. Putting each other to the test and working together with those who have diverse perspectives can foster creativity and lead to breakthrough innovations that drive businesses ahead.
Women represent a significant economic force and provide valuable consumer insight.
In 2009, Harvard Business Review wrote that women accounted for about $20 trillion in annual consumer expenditure, making them a more substantial potential market expansion than both China and India put together. A decade later, women’s spending power is reportedly around $31 trillion. Additionally, Nielsen predicts that by 2028, women will own 75% of the discretionary spend. Yet, analysis suggests that only 35% of creative advertising directors in the United States are women. Considering the size and purchasing power of the female demographic, I’d argue that women are in a prime position to capitalize on this market and provide significant consumer insight.
Women often excel at the soft skills required for business leadership.
While technical skills and knowledge are essential for career success, CEOs regularly rate soft skills as the most valued professional characteristics (paywall). Hugely valuable personalities include good communicators, empaths and self-aware individuals who are conscious of their strengths and weaknesses. According to research linking character strength with business performance, CEOs who score highly for traits like compassion and integrity can earn a 9.35% return on assets over two years.
Soft skills and emotional intelligence may be a competitive advantage for women in business. According to a survey by the international consulting firm Hay Group published in 2016, women surpass males in 11 of 12 major emotional intelligence characteristics. These include emotional self-awareness, empathy, conflict management, flexibility and teamwork—all essential skills to becoming a good leader at work.
How To Empower Women In Leadership Positions
Recognize and support quality while being open to diverse opinions.
The most impactful way is to lead by example to reflect that women can have an equal seat at the table and that the organization is committed to providing it. Start by recognizing and supporting the quality input women bring to the table. Let women’s voices be heard, especially in board meetings, make room for negotiation and consider everybody’s opinion, regardless of gender.
Capitalize on women’s natural leadership potential.
Training and support in empathetic leadership will allow women to lead authentically, utilizing their natural strengths instead of trying to lead like a man. As discussed earlier, women often excel at the soft skills needed for business leadership. If the company trusts women leaders in their organization to lead with compassion, the whole organization will be stronger.
Be flexible and create a healthy work-life balance.
Work is not the only priority in an employee’s life, so companies need to provide flexibility to meet client deliverables and employees’ personal goals as well. In particular, companies should provide flexibility for parents so that they can balance family and their careers.
Remote work has been a game changer in the employee retention strategy at our and our clients’ companies. Not only can it increase efficiency, but it also gives employees the opportunity to be more in control of other aspects of their lives.
Overall, organizations can best support leaders by being clear on what success looks like (i.e., providing measurable goals) and allowing them to set healthy boundaries and say no to things that do not support those goals. In other words, define the what and allow your employees to come up with the how.
At my company, we have seen firsthand the positive results of having women in leadership roles over the years and learned that, in order to maximize the leadership potential of the women in your organization, you need to be genuinely responsive to their needs. It all starts with empowerment. Female leaders must see and feel their sense of purpose within the company at every turn. This helps them prioritize in life, make plans and be resilient to setbacks. In turn, this can have a domino effect that leads to better teams, a better company and even a better society overall.