We have all heard of the glass ceiling cliché to describe the inequities of women in leadership positions. While many pioneering women have cracked that ceiling, it still looms above America’s ambitious and innovative female workforce.
The big gap in the U.S.
According to a study by Grant Thornton, women hold only 20% of U.S. senior corporate leadership positions.
When compared to their global counterparts, the U.S. falls far short in shrinking the gender gap. Emerging economies seem to be doing much better at achieving gender equality in the workforce. Even the progressive nations of Western Europe don’t measure up with the likes of China with over 50% of corporate leadership positions held by women. Estonia and Vietnam rank in the top ten with 40% and 33% respectively of women in leadership roles. Even the African country of Botswana has us beat with 32% of their corporate leaders being women.
G7 falls behind the developing world in corporate female leadership
The U.S. isn’t the only established market with low percentages of women in leadership positions. The U.K. is right behind us with 19% and Japan at 7%. Cultural conservatism might explain Japan’s low percentage of women in leading roles within the corporate structure. However, how do you explain China? This ancient culture has not always been women friendly and due to the one child rule, sex selection in favor of males has been widely practiced. However, the fact is China and most emerging economies need workers. Women generally make up half the population at birth and enjoy longer life expectancy.
Malaysia’s cabinet passed a 2011 mandate stating that companies must achieve a 1/3 ratio of women on corporate boards and in executive roles by 2016. U.S. corporations are unlikely to respond positively to gender mandates or equitable hiring regulations, however the U.S. would do well to change it’s corporate culture in order to stay competitive.
Benefits of gender equitable leadership
Deloitte conducted a global study on workplace diversity and while 72% of executives responding believed gender equality and workplace diversity were essential to continued growth and success of their companies, only 28% believed it was a top priority at the senior level. Many corporations have targeted strategies to recruit and retain women yet senior leadership roles are still lacking in diversity. Women bring a different skill set to the marketplace and smart businesses are harnessing the power of the female approach to business.
Key leadership traits where women excel
Kathy Caprino writing for Forbes magazine reports that certain leadership traits are in a sense inherently female. Men possess these traits but women are more likely to possess them and to a greater degree. The four traits are:
- Strong interpersonal skills and empathetic relating skills
- Resilience in applying lessons and learning from adversity
- Honoring inclusion over hierarchy
- Risk taking and resisting following the “rules”
Caprino argues that these traits foster a more open, flexible, creative and inclusive corporate culture. Which translates to greater innovation and productivity.
Corporate America has made great strides in regard to diversity and equality of gender, race, religion and sexual orientation, however we still have a long way to go. More and more organizations are embracing the female approach because they recognize the incredible contributions that women can make at the highest levels of business.
Tom Bulger, CPA celebrates the important contributions women entrepreneurs and leaders make to our communities. Tom has helped countless women achieve their financial goals through customized financial planning and advice. Give Tom Bulger a call today.
Are you a woman in a leadership position within your organization? What were some of the struggles you encountered and how did you overcome them. Share your thoughts with us in our comment section below.
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