In theory, the sex of a person leading a business shouldn’t really matter. In an ideal world, it would be possible for both men and women to rise equally to the top, and for a meritocracy to ensue in which gender doesn’t matter and talent is all that is focused on. However, the reality is that this is not an ideal world, and that it takes a concerted effort to ensure that women are promoted to top positions.
This is, of course, something to be celebrated. It’s well-understood that while stereotypes are out, an understanding that diversity is beneficial to a business is very much in – and there are clear plus points to ensuring that leadership is balanced in a gender sense. This article will explore what the benefits are of ensuring that an organisation has women in positions of leadership.
A fresh perspective
There’s no doubting it: while men and women have more in common than they might think, there are also some clear ways that they and their experiences differ. For women, their time in business may well have been marred by some less-than-pleasant experiences: they may have suffered sexual harassment, for example, while they might also have seen first-hand just what the gender pay gap looks like in practice.
What this means is that women often bring a clear and fresh perspective to the business table. They have experienced first-hand what effects the status quo can have, and are therefore well-placed to think outside the box and look for creative solutions around every corner. For a business, this can be invaluable: it can mean that new and profitable product ideas get championed even if they’re a little unusual, for example.
These days, statistics mean everything – and nowhere is this more true than in the world of the gender pay gap. While in the UK, it’s currently only usually against the law to not publish gender pay gap figures if there are over 250 employees, it’s clear that the tide is turning in this regard. It’s not unlikely that in 10 years’ time there’ll be even more scrutiny of whether or not businesses are paying women equally, and for a firm that wants to ensure that it doesn’t fall victim to a PR disaster, acting ahead of time is wise. By getting good women into senior leadership roles now, it’s possible to ensure that your firm’s positive gender pay figures have plenty of time to bed in ahead of potential cultural and regulatory changes in the future.
When it comes to refreshing a tired business, focusing on leadership makes sense. After all, it’s usually the leaders who are the most prominent to all sorts of other stakeholders, including employees. It’s certainly possible for men to be inspiring, and there are plenty of male business leaders who manage to take their organisations from strength to strength.
However, in many environments where a woman is leader, it’s still the case that their story of getting to the top is more inspirational. That’s often because a female leader has had to overcome all sorts of challenges. Lady Barbara Judge is a case in point: she spent years in the financial services industry, before later heading up the Institute of Directors in Britain – all in an era that was not nearly as diverse as the current one. With a leader such as this at the helm of an organisation, it’s easier for all junior people – including women and men – to feel inspired by a story of someone overcoming the odds.
Perhaps the most simple yet persuasive reason to go to the effort to recruit women is because it expands the potential talent pool of potential recruits. For a flagging business, the worst potential problem that can arise is for it to be impossible to find the right leader. Therefore, by making a concerted effort to hire women, an organisation can ensure that it gets the talent that it needs to flourish and grow.
Hiring women, then, is an excellent way to refresh a business and to ensure that its prospects are positive – especially if they are currently not looking so great. From the fresh perspective that women can bring due to their differing experiences to the way that it reflects well on your firm (and is likely to do so increasingly in the future), firms ought to make sure that there are plenty of options available for women who want to expand their business horizons. After all, it’s a win-win situation, and it’s good for both the individual woman and the firm that hires her!