Having more women in senior management helps an organization grow faster. Here’s how
The problem is not of non-availability of capable and well-qualified women; it is one of lack of conscious efforts on the part of corporate organizations to nurture and groom women for senior management roles. It is essential to highlight here that comparable number of men and women join the corporate workforce in India every year. So the gender imbalance is not prominent on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder. However, more and more women chose to (or are driven to) opt out as they head up the middle management level. In most cases it is family responsibilities that force them out of the corporate ranks, and also the absence of corporate cultural settings that take into account this factor.
Women’s participation in business is not just a gender equality slogan, it makes much economic sense as well. Business acumen and leadership do not come exclusively to men. For every wasted female talent, there is a corresponding economic loss.
In 2007 research organization Catalyst conducted a comprehensive study on the economic benefits of gender parity and concluded that the Fortune 500 companies which had more female board directors achieved significantly higher financial performance. On a macroeconomic scale, Catalyst also reported recently that countries can radically increase their GDP by augmenting the role of women in the economy.
A survey published in the
Bhardwaj advocates four steps to make women lead the ladder.
Have long-term diversity objectives
The culture has to be consciously created, long-term goals prepared and a conscious effort made towards achieving them through multifarious initiatives. Organizations must evaluate the gender situation in their top management and assiduously think about where they want to be on this front in the next five years.
Create a pipeline of women leadership
Organizations today must make a conscious effort to nurture the talented women employees who show traits of leadership right from an early stage. This includes spotting them early and giving them ample opportunities to grow and learn, involving them in key strategic projects that can give them greater insights, and equip them with the capability to lead the organization. As they move up the corporate ladder, it is essential to institute re-tooling and re-skilling programs for them at each level to ensure they are abreast with all latest developments in the industry.
Make organizations empathetic to women’s needs
There are multiple reasons for this including an institutionalized bias and lack of support for women employees who decide to have children. The consequence is that despite being bright and talented, very few women are able to make the transition to top management positions. It is essential to institute greater flexibility and a more empathetic approach to make the workplace more amenable to women. At
Ensuring Equal Pay for Equal Work
A series of discouraging reports and studies have in recent years highlighted systematic gender discrimination when it comes to paying women. A recent survey by Monster.com in India found that the median wage earned by women was 27% lower as against their male counterparts. This cannot continue if we want to draw more women in leadership positions.
Not just gender equity but a larger vision to have greater diversity in an organizational workforce can bring unprecedented and un-thought of benefits by having a greater variety of approaches and emotional quotients to find solutions. It is time corporate India takes tangible steps in this direction.
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