Does Your Organization Foster an Equal Opportunity Path to Leadership for Women?
It’s interesting to watch which posts on Vaya Group’s LinkedIn social media platform spur the most engagement. Not surprisingly, one of our recent posts related to women in leadership roles in the workplace gained one of the highest levels of social engagement to-date among our growing base of followers.
In social media conversations – just like conversations we have with each other, people are drawn to topics they they’re passionate about and women in business is one of them. There is absolutely no doubt that the importance of more women moving into leading roles across all types of business operations is a topic that warrants further exploration and ongoing discussion in ‘Corporate America.’ The question is: How can companies build a culture that is committed to developing a new generation of female leaders; rather than create obstacles that make it an uphill battle?
The topic of women in leadership overcoming gender differences in talent management and development has been widely addressed. While some progress is being made is this area, there is much work to be done. There are still vast gaps and differences in the types of leadership development accessible to females in business today, compared to their male counterparts.
According to research by Lean In and McKinsey, women represent more than 52 percent of the total population, but only 20 percent of C-suite roles. The gap is even wider for women of color, who represent 19 percent of the population and only 3 percent of c-suite roles. The gender gap appears to start early in one’s career, as entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male co-workers. These stats illustrate why the gender gap is a critical issue in business today.
Aside from the quest to provide a fair and equitable workplace, several studies have found that there is a positive impact from a more gender-balanced leadership teams. For example, DDI research found that companies with at least 30 percent women in leadership roles are 12 times more likely to be among the top 20 percent of companies based on financial performance. Credit Suisse research also suggests that having women on the executive board also boosts financial performance.
Since gender balance at all levels of the workplace is proven to improve financial performance and create a healthier work environment, why isn’t more being done to cultivate female leaders? Consider some eye-opening stats from the study “Women’s Access to Leadership Development: A Tale of Two Experiences,” by Training Industry Inc. Research, which confirm the existence of a leadership gap in business:
- While women were more likely to manage individual contributors, men were more likely to fill higher-level leadership roles
- Despite nearly equal tenure, male respondents are nearly 40 percent more likely to work at an executive level
- Women are less likely to receive advice from leaders about advancing their careers, but those who do, are more likely to have been promoted
The Training Industry research strongly suggests that one of the major barriers to the advancement of female leadership is the lack of equivalent learning opportunities for both women and men. This gender gap in leadership exists not only at the executive levels in organization, but also across mid-level and emerging leadership.
The Best Next Step – Leveling the Playing Field
So, what’s the best next step toward leveling the playing field for women in business? A solid approach is to begin with providing the female talent within an organization with the equal opportunity to access the broad range of talent and leadership development that can pave the way toward leadership roles.
As we take a look closer at the gender gap and barriers of access to leadership development for women, especially at the mid-level, a solution Vaya Group recently unveiled comes into play. The Vayability™ Talent Development Solution is a highly personalized solution designed to prepare high-potential (HiPo) employees for advancement into leadership roles. As research indicates that more than 50 percent of the HiPo employees in today’s workforce are women, cultivating the HiPo female talent within an organization can be a crucial step in leveling the playing field earlier in their careers. It can pay dividends not only in areas such as job satisfaction and retention, but can also support long-term performance gains and financial success for the companies where they work.
Designed as a high-quality coaching and development platform that is accessible and affordable to HiPo and emerging leaders, Vayability draws on the latest scientific research and best practices designed to help emerging leaders form the right habits, behaviors and skills for success. It’s highly personalized, offers accelerated development and supports active user engagement for measurable results. Cloud-based and accessible anytime or anywhere by remote, geographically dispersed users. Vayability is well-suited for a variety of industries including life sciences (pharmaceutical and biotechnology), financial services, information technology and consumer goods manufacturers, and many others.
There is no doubt that women continue to face gender gap-related challenges in today’s business environment. And, while progress is being made, unfortunately, there are still vast differences in the type of leadership development opportunities available to women, compared to men.
On the positive side, current research indicates that companies with higher percentages of women in leadership roles often perform better financially. And these financial benefits are in addition to the more positive work environment that results from gender equality and inclusion. Companies seeking to level the playing field will find tremendous value in identifying the hi-potential female talent withing their organizations, and providing these people with access to the talent and skills development they need to not only to succeed, but to thrive in leadership roles.