After discussing work life balance, I think it is appropriate to discuss women in leadership this week. Not only because I am a woman and I love the topic of leadership, but also because more women are assuming leadership positions and this article is a hurrah to them.
We now more than ever need to steer away from the stereotypes that have been built around women leaders. Why do I discuss this after work life balance? Because, it is often assumed, that women need to balance life at work with life at home while men can continue to climb the corporate ladder…
You can shake your head and vehemently say “No, that’s not true, my boss is a woman” but these statistics prove my point. According to a report by Catalyst, and numbers around Global Women Board Chairs, India is at 2%, Australia at 2.5% and the US at 2.6%. Turkey holds highest at 11.1%. The full report can be accessed here.
The fact that organizations around the world have to adopt a quota system to include women at top positions cries out loud that more women need to be included. The glass ceiling still exists.
A special report by Thomson Reuters in 2012 suggests that companies that are breaking the glass ceiling quicker outperform their peers and enjoy a higher share price.[i]
Employing more women also requires a change in perceptions and behavior. Talking about perceptions, first, there is a need to move away from the stereotypes surrounding successful women. A good example is Miranda Priestley from the movie ‘The Devil Wears Prada’.
The film portrays Miranda as an arrogant, ‘takes you for granted’ kind of boss who has her employees shaking in their boots and who expects them to be at her beck and call around the clock. This is a stereotype of a woman needing to be conniving and bitchy to reach and stay at the top.
Some women do think that they need to emulate men to be successful. Gina Toegl, a professor in Organizational Behavior and Leadership at IMD, outlines that male leaders are associated with “agentic” behavior: they are more likely to be proactive, assertive and dominant.
But women show friendliness, support and a caring attitude. The belief is that male behavior is required to be a leader. This is not true.
Indra Nooyi of Pepsico makes tough decisions but is gentle and caring. So this proves that you don’t have to be a “b%^&h” to run a company.
Then, the conventional societal norms surrounding a male dominated society is that a woman gets married, raises a family and looks after her household while a man is the bread winner.
This is changing very slowly as more women enter the workforce and urban men become more accepting and encouraging of women as leaders.
Businesses now see the difference to their bottom line when they encourage gender diverse management teams. For example, companies that have more than three women in management positions tend to have better return on equity and assets than those with fewer women.[ii]
Today, many companies are working towards the inclusion of women in their teams and Boards so I say “Please keep it going” and on behalf of all women leaders I can say “You won’t regret it”