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In recent decades, there's been tremendous strides towards greater gender equality, yet there is still a fundamental lack of women in leadership roles. Alarmingly, only 5% of the 100 CEOs recently featured in Glassdoor’s Top CEOs list are women. Unfortunately, Glassdoor’s list is not in isolation and is representative of wider society with only 5% of Financial Stock Exchange Group 100 CEO’s reported to be a woman in 2020, whilst 95% are male. Prompting the question, why is there such disparity and are we doing enough to champion female CEOs?
The working landscape is changing and is no longer a 'man’s world', however, there are still poignant challenges for female leaders. Below are just some of the challenges faced by enterprising women on a day-to-day basis.
The gender pay gap still exists as female professionals are paid less than their counterparts. Subsequently, it’s harder to get funding as a female entrepreneur, which results in the women who start their own businesses having less capital available to them than male entrepreneurs.
Often the majority of people in the room are men, which means women are in the minority. This creates psychological barriers and unconscious bias as women are perceived as more emotional and less decisive.
Lack of networks and mentors
With fewer female CEO’s, the pool of women who can mentor and advise their fellow entrepreneurs is consequently smaller. Making it more difficult for enterprising women to learn from their peers who have ‘been there, done that’.
Woman are often a family’s primary caregiver which presents an issue when juggling childcare alongside a demanding leadership role. Juggling the two can be exhausting, complex and also costly.
When women become leaders, they provide a different set of skills, perspectives, and structural and cultural differences that drive effective solutions. There is undeniably multiple benefits women can bring to leadership roles, including the following:
1. Transformational ideas
A meta-analysis comparing male and female leaders identified those female leaders were more transformational. They demonstrated more contingent reward behaviour than the two-dimensional actions (active and passive management) presented by male leadership.
2. Promotes teamwork
As Mother’s or female caregivers, women demonstrate passion, enthusiasm and a capability to take command of a situation when need be. Their ability to make bold and wise decisions as leaders help make the team environment less authoritative and more cooperative, and subsequently boosts teamwork and positive company culture.
3. Enhanced communications
Communication is known to be among a woman’s strongest skill and female leaders utilise this to enhance meaningful conversations with employers, co-workers and partners, thus improving business-wide communication and clarity.
4. Better financial outcomes
A diverse workplace promotes creativity and innovation which fuels growth and improves performance within an organisation. In a workplace study, 21% of businesses are more likely to experience above-average profitability if the workforce is gender-diverse.
5. The ability to wear many hats
It is not uncommon for a woman to wear many hats, balancing careers, households and parental guidance. This experience helps women leaders to quickly adjust to new situations and focus on finding solutions to real-life work issues in their role.
Male versus female disparity is evident across the board, and the technology sector is no exception. We spoke to several female CEOs within the technology sector to hear about their experiences including their struggles, achievements and what they feel can be done to champion others.
Q&A with Jess Tucker, Managing Director of Social Allies
Q&A with Victoria Bond, CEO of Space HR
Ultimately, gender diversity in the workplace is critical for business success. With gender diversity comes new experiences and perspectives that lead to better decision-making as a whole for the business. There is work to be done as a society to break down gender stereotypes and bias and support aspiring female leaders. Employing more women in leadership roles and encouraging female CEO’s can not only provide the benefits listed above but also help to achieve a wider goal of closing the gender pay gap.
At Search Consultancy, we aim to promote equality at work and make a positive difference to our clients, candidates and colleagues. Find out more about how Search Consultancy supports women in the workplace.