We all benefit when women do well in business
Diversity & Inclusion Society and the economy gain if the full potential in professional women is unlocked, says Griselda Togobo, managing director of business support network Forward Ladies.
Having a gender balance at work and particularly in leadership positions brings huge rewards. Organisations benefit from having diverse opinions, passions and interests that reflect society and their customers. Seeing women doing well also inspires the next generation as girls realise they can achieve great things at work, become leaders and make a difference.
Mentorship and inspiration
Employers must demonstrate they have a strong pipeline of female talent, which means assessing how they attract and retain women. If the pipeline is weak, it can be easy to claim they cannot find women for certain top roles. Mentoring at work should be encouraged because women flourish when they can see what others have achieved, can talk about their own challenges and obtain valuable career advice. Women think differently than men and, despite having the skills and adequate qualifications to succeed in their chosen career, can question their own abilities.
Through a nationwide programme of events, mentoring, training, leadership programmes, conferences and awards, Forward Ladies supports women to realise their full potential.
Women at senior levels
It is also time to broaden the leadership conversation and not just talk about the need to have more women on company boards. Not every talented female leader wants to sit on the board, but we do need to question why women are still hugely under-represented in entrepreneurship, in politics, media and in other male dominated sectors such as the Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing fields. This under representation is hurting businesses and the wider economy.
“We need our men to join us and set much needed examples for the next generation”
Why are so many women still leaving workplaces before reaching senior management levels and those that stay are overlooked for promotion to other executive positions and are penalised with a gender pay gap?
Organisational culture can have the biggest impact on change. Too many career-progressing decisions are still driven by unconscious bias so everyone within an organisation needs to understand how prejudice can cloud their judgement and the impact it can have on achieving gender balance and the resulting impact on the bottom line.
There is still a need for women’s support networks at work to help women build the confidence and contacts they need to succeed and for companies to learn to accommodate the flexibility needs of their female and male care givers.
More needs to be done
It is ultimately the responsibility of everyone, men and women, to ensure individuals reach their full potential, whatever their gender. We have seen some progress over the years but there is still a lot of hard work to do. The United Nation HeforShe campaign estimates gender equality in the workplace won’t be achieved until 2095!
We need our men to join us and set much needed examples for the next generation. We need our male role models just as much as our female role models. We need both men and women supporting this agenda because gender equality is an opportunity that will benefit everyone.