The push for female talent is as loud as ever, and women globally are encouraged to grab the opportunity while it’s hot. COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg speaks to the heart of women who are afraid to take the steps that crosses barriers of stereotype into leadership when she eloquently says:
“Fortune does favor the bold and you’ll never know what you’re capable of if you don’t try.”
A new era is upon us, and corporations everywhere are talking about the shift of female leadership in the workplace. Media campaigns, movies, celebrities and even tweets are going crazy over female talent. The Woman’s Movement is front and centre on many political agendas and international news agencies. But the real woman is what she is. And she faces the invitation to thrive in the workplace with as much hard work with which she fought to be noticed in the first place.
As the demand for female talent emerges, how are real women affected? How do they take the steps, and make the choices that are right for them? Particularly when so much attention is thrown at them. As the storm of inequality settles, opportunities for women unleash. But they do with much less restriction than ever before. With open arms, support and encouragement. What we are hearing is a serious call for women everywhere who dare to dream. To perhaps embrace a new lifestyle of leadership and influence. Once upon a time, these positions were only open to the brave, to those who shattered glass ceilings and broke down boxes. Now they are open to all. At the helm of the movement, businesses shape the arena, campaign for female talent and begin recruiting. But will they do their part to attract the best female talent amid so much competition? Can corporations offer women the support they need to rise up the ladder? And do they understand the risks and fears that have previously prevented many women from stepping forward?
A mounting number of businesses have been adopting initiatives to improve and grow their female talent base, particularly at the leadership level. However, most senior level management positions are still mostly occupied by men.
Striking a balance between genders in the workplace is no longer about fulfilling a human resources requirement – it’s smart economics. Today women are pushing organisations’ growth forward worldwide, and corporations everywhere are noticing the buzz.
The Companies That Help Women Rise
Several companies around the world are adapting their businesses to welcome the emergence of female talent and diversity. They provide competitive benefits and work options that show women everywhere just how important they are to the company, going above and beyond where many simply ‘’check the box’’.
Forbes put out a list of the top 10 US companies for women. Companies that cater environments for women to excel as leaders and give them peace of mind even when they clock out. Here are the top 3:
1. Meridian Health
Meridian Health took the lead with 80% women making up their workforce 63% of which are in leadership roles. Among the perks being offered was affordable onsite child care.
2. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a pediatric hospital offers amazing adoption benefits of $10,000. It also provides new parents paid time off, telecommuting, job sharing, and even flexible scheduling.
3. Perkins Coie
Perkins Coie is a law firm with which 68% of women occupy leadership positions. The company also offers work from home opportunities which help many women, especially new parents.
You can read the full top ten list here.
A big THANK YOU to these companies who lead the way in offering exceptional working environments for women. These companies are leaders in their own right. To women they offer the greatest gifts. Appreciation and a nurturing environment. They have told them they are worth it and enabled them to thrive where previously obstacles impeded on them. They have marketed and reformed their businesses to change the male dominated platform and diversified so that a new process and outlook can emerge. What this shift will bring is uncertain, but what we do know is that there is a new stream of talent flowing in. Where else can true growth occur, if not in the safest and most abundant environments? Hopefully we’ll see many more businesses following, offering female talent the space to flourish and prosper.
Why is Female Talent Changing the Work Space?
In the twentieth century, we all know the struggles and stereotypes that every woman in the workforce had to meet face to face on a daily basis. The past is no myth. The wounds from the battle of inequality are still healing. Labour and equal rights movements inspired (if not forced) large organisations to create initiatives that promised to bring more women on board. We owe a lot of thanks to our mothers and grandmothers.
‘’A successful woman is one who can build a firm foundation with the brick others have thrown at her.’’ – David Brinkley, American newscaster
Today, businesses and corporations understand the responsibility of reflecting diversity and owning up to the market they address. The culture of women is changing. And this change is reaching the boards of corporations around the globe.
Female leaders are making an impact on the market and there is abundant research to show for it. Catalyst studied the impacts of women who are on the board of directors in Fortune 500 companies. They found that organisations with at least one woman on their board of directors had a 53% higher return on equity. These same organisations also enjoyed 42% higher sales. They ultimately found that having a minimum of one woman on the board of directors resulted in a 66% higher ROI.
These significant findings not only confirm the rising awareness of women in leadership roles but applaud the emergence of female talent.
Why Companies Need Female Talent
Women are reshaping the landscape of organisations around the world, and it is largely because women bring a different set of distinct and seemingly inherent skills to the table.
* Strategic Networking Professionals
Mothers, grandmothers, and daughters are often credited as being the ‘glue’ that holds the family together. As it turns out, this same talent translates pretty well in the business world. Generally speaking, women are profoundly better in building and maintaining social and business networks. Being relationship specialists, women excel in cultivating purposeful, meaningful, and genuine long-lasting relationships with people from all walks of life. They tend to have a larger network than their male counterparts, and they often trump men when it comes to obtaining enhanced client insight.
* Capitalising on Opportunity
Women are just as good at coming up with out-of-the-box solutions as their male co-workers. When an opportunity presents itself, women don’t back off due to risk. Though studies have shown that women are more risk-averse than men in general, the types of risks that women take in the workplace are more calculated and are backed by precise strategy.
* Natural Givers
Women naturally want to give back and be part of their community. This would explain why 73% of those working in the non-profit sector are women. This largely works to the benefit of an organisation. Women want to inspire. They want to engage and elevate those around them, and they do so on a personal level. Women tend to be better at forecasting and looking at building an organisation for the long-term and are less likely to get behind a short-term ideas and ‘quick fixes’.
Many also argue that being more socially conscious leaders, women are better when it comes to cultivating innovation. After all, there are 8.2 million women-owned businesses in America for example, a number that is growing 50% more quickly than overall new business growth.
What Makes a Strong Candidate for Successful Female Talent?
Typically, candidates that are poised to excel and take an organisation to the next level most often possess the following three characteristics or traits:
What an organisation does to nurture a female in the workplace will also have a significant impact on her ability to succeed. Organisations should provide opportunities for these women to develop their skills and nominate them for board openings. Helping women build networks and exposing them to international markets will broaden their knowledge and will go a long way in helping them move into a managerial or senior leadership role.
The women that succeed are those that are true to themselves. Who meet their challenges head on and follow their hearts to the very end. Within our reach is an ocean of possibility.
“Behind every successful woman, is herself.’’ – Unknown
It’s a new time for women. But it’s a new time for men too. Together, men and women can embrace the embodiment of gender balance and equality. Work together where opportunities are equally at hand. As businesses give the floor for female talent to grow we can reach equilibrium and understand the market in whole new ways. And hopefully above all, we can support our business partners, our colleagues and co-workers, both men and women as we each strive to find success.
The Rise of Female Millennials
Education probably plays the biggest part in this movement. Statistics show that women are just as likely to have a bachelor degree today as men, and they are 50 % more likely to have a graduate degree. Women born in the 1980’s & 90’s have embraced the opportunities of education more than any other generation. As a consequence a large flood of educated women are graduating and ready to meet the business world head on. If anything has propelled the female talent movement, it’s the millennials who are showing up at a once inequality-fractured workspace. But they don’t seem to mind the dreariness us oldies are all up in arms about, they bring with them a fresh-minded driven approach to launch themselves on their career path. We can learn a lot from that.
But millennials still have some issues to face. According to Jillian Berman, Reporter @ MarketWatch, ‘’Young women are reaping the benefits of the women’s movement when it comes to education, but they’re still waiting for equal pay.’’
‘’According to a new study, most men would like women to occasionally pick up the check. The study also found that most women would occasionally like to be paid as much as men for doing the same job.’’
– Conan O’Brian, American Comedian and Television Host
There is always a funny side to challenging times. Humour shows that these so called ‘’women issues’’ connect to a much wider audience. The female talent movement in many ways presents itself as a knight in shining armour, heralding a heroic feat to sooth the societal complexities that many women have had to face.
In fact, PWC has also played its part to shine light on female talent. It has launched a virtual resource of information and insight surrounding diversity and inclusion for female talent explaining what female millennials are expecting and what’s on their mind. Getting informed is the first way companies can help accelerate change in their business, helping female talent to thrive and challenge status quo. Check out their excellent infographic here.
According to PWC, the female millennials have become part of a much larger global talent pool awakening what they call ‘’a new era of female talent.’’
Also from the PWC website: ‘’Organisations the world over are currently facing the challenges that come with vast numbers of millennial talent entering and reshaping the workforce. In parallel, they are also challenged with a lack of women in leadership positions, and fast becoming concerned with the financial and competitive toll this could mean for their organisations. Organisations looking to address the gender leadership gap must drive parallel efforts that tackle enhanced leadership diversity in conjunction with systemic change efforts targeting their workforce from day one. But to get this right, first, organisations must better understand how to attract, develop, engage and retain female millennial talent.’’
Will Mandatory Board Quotas’ solve the problem?
In an effort to increase the representation of women in the corporate sector, in 2003, Norway passed a law mandating 40% representation of each gender on the board of publicly limited liability companies. Source.
Several countries in the EU followed and a debate ensued. Do mandatory quotas hurt women? It is still uncertain how quotas impact the perception of gender inequality. While they introduce a much needed inclusion of diversity in the corporate world, can mandating laws fix a culture wounded by prejudice and misinformation against women? Will women feel they have earned their place on the board or will they be merely perceived as regulated diversity hires? Is this true equality?
More than ever now is the time to foster a new experience for women. While we are fortunate to live in a time where a movement towards female talent is so firmly promoted, we must take each step with a much greater awareness. After all, we are the grand parents of future generations.
The Future of Female Talent
Having a board of directors that reflects the composition of society is indeed a lucrative business decision. As more and more women obtain advanced education degrees, plunge themselves into opportunities in the industry, and witness more inspiring women occupy leadership roles, it’s fair to assume that there will undoubtedly be a gender shift in leadership dynamics over the next several decades.
The organisations that will accommodate the many challenges that many women face, such as child care and elder care, are the ones which will come out on top. These are the businesses which will be able to fully capitalize on female talent and all of the unique benefits that women can bring in the workforce.
Now for women, the ball is in your court. As every living thing in time naturally grows and moves away from its past in order to thrive and fully sustain itself, take advantage of your willingness to succeed and work hard to earn the dream of a lifetime.
‘’What would you do if you weren’t afraid’’
– Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook