3 strategies to promote the development of women to leadership positions in your company
To promote women to leadership positions, not only is it enough to say it, you also need to take actions that help their professional development.
The effectiveness of women in leadership positions was recently demonstrated with the COVID-19 virus pandemic. Countries that had a woman as a leader to manage the crisis recorded 43% fewer deaths than other nations in the world. Presidents and heads of state such as Jacinta Arden from New Zealand and Tsai Ing-wen from Taiwan were examples of how leaders can anticipate and take effective action in times of crisis. Additionally, studies have shown that women tend to cultivate traits of collaboration, compassion, and empathy, which are very helpful for people in leadership positions.
However, although these experiences and studies show that women have the ability to be excellent leaders, they are not represented in leadership positions like men. For example, women only represent 6% in positions of president or head of state in the world. The UN reported that , out of 193 countries, only 22 women hold such leadership positions.
Many reasons contribute to this lack of representation. Among these are: social discrimination based on their sex, where society tends to associate the leadership position with the male sex; the “tokenism” that happens when women are hired by a company just to make it appear that their cabinet is diverse, but their contribution to the success of the workplace is never taken into account; lack of career development opportunities where the company does not invest in enhancing its capabilities so that it can climb the corporate ladder.
In this article I will give you three strategies to help more women develop as leaders in your workplace and help gender equality in leadership positions.
Strategy # 1: Create a job sponsorship program for women
The word sponsor is usually associated with companies sponsoring an event or cause. But there are also sponsors in jobs. Job sponsors are people in the organization who hold a high position in the company, for example, vice president, president or manager. This person is dedicated to the professional development of another employee. Success stories have shown, like this one published in the Harvard Business Review , that workplace sponsorship is crucial for women and minorities.
These individuals are highly influential in society or in the workplace and act as the employee's corporate advocate and cheerleader. This sponsor recommends the employee for new opportunities, projects, salary increases, and leadership positions. This relationship does not have to be a mentoring relationship (which I explain in strategy number two), these two people do not have to have meetings in a row for this to work. The important thing is that the sponsor ( the person with the most influence ), dedicates himself to helping and recommending the employee for opportunities in the company.
Strategy # 2: Create a network where established employees can mentor new ones
Mentoring is of great benefit in helping to develop female leadership positions. A mentoring relationship is one that has two or more people where the mentor gives advice and advice to the mentee based on their experiences already lived. These tips are intended to help the mentee achieve their professional and / or personal goals. Sometimes these mentoring relationships happen naturally or you can also start a mentoring network at the corporate, departmental level or within your team. If this is your first time creating a mentoring network, here are six steps to get started:
- Make a list of mentees: the women you want to prepare for leadership positions
- Make a list of all the mentors that are available in the organization
- Survey mentees about their career goals for their professional development
- Take a survey and ask the mentors in what areas they can mentor. For example: sales, marketing, leadership.
- Make the match of each pair
- Set up weekly or bi-weekly meetings for your mentoring sessions.
In addition to mentoring and sponsorship, it is also important to help eliminate gender biases (strategy 3) to promote more women to leadership positions.
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Strategy # 3: Help eliminate gender prejudice towards women in your company
Gender biases towards women are when we have a thought, a preconceived judgment or a negative implication of character towards women just because they are a woman. Unfortunately, the United Nations reported that nine out of 10 people have prejudice towards women. These damages can manifest themselves in the workplace in the following ways:
- If the woman acts assertively, she is classified as a difficult person to work with, but if she is a man who acts assertive, she is classified as a person with strong, positive qualities.
- The company offers less salary to a woman who performs the same job as another man just because she is a woman.
- Assign more administrative tasks like making copies and making coffee only to women, but never to a man, simply because he is a man.
Gender biases are so harmful because if it happens, the woman is already having a negative work experience just because she is a woman. The damages are not based on facts such as poor quality of work or unwillingness of an employee. The damages are only based on negative gender stereotypes that we associate with a person without knowing them.
Here are some tips for you to combat harm towards women in the workplace:
- Examine the responsibilities of your team and make sure that you are not dividing tasks at work based on gender
- Make sure that in meetings women also have the opportunity to share their opinion
- Distribute the administrative tasks equally on your team
Taking these sponsorship, mentoring and gender bias strategies into account are some of the things you can do to help create more gender equity in the world and promote more women to leadership positions in your company. With the help of leaders who actively promote the development of women, we can move the world to a more balanced and representative place of our talent.