International Women’s Day 2019 celebrated and recognised the achievements of many women and was a source of inspiration for many more as the quest for gender parity throughout the workforce continues. Whilst progress is being made, according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2017 Global Gender Gap report, which measures the participation gap, the remuneration gap and the advancement gap, women lag men by 58% overall and are further behind in developing countries. The WEF concluded that at the current rate of change, we won’t see gender equality in the global workforce for at least another five generations. Yet, a recent PWC report highlights that “the quality of women’s talent and leadership is vitally important to business; the skills and experience they bring, including experience gained outside of the workplace, has proven to be essential in strategic decision-making and in ethical, sustainable enterprise. In 2015 MSCI*, a financial research firm, analysed more than 4,200 companies and found that return on equity was 2.7% higher for those with strong female leadership and that these companies were less prone to governance- related controversies. Women’s voices on teams, especially those which span cultures and functions, have been shown to increase emotional commitment, which leads the teams to push harder for success”.
The business case clearly stacks up, so what is happening to deter women from making it to the top, or indeed even staying in organisations? The PWC study indicates that female respondents want “to succeed and rise up the corporate ladder, but they want jobs they enjoy and better options for managing the demands of work and home life.”
Clearly there is an organisational challenge to create an environment that enables women to be fulfilled and successful at work, knowing that this will lead to positive business outcomes. But, is there a need for women to change also? The women’s leadership expert Sally Helgesen, who co-wrote the book ‘How Women Rise’ with Marshall Goldsmith last year, believes that women can do more to help themselves. The American has researched women’s leadership for over 30 years and in the book has identified 12 behaviours that can hold women back as they try to rise through the ranks. In our Executive Coaching work we can see some clear differences in how male and female executives manage their behaviours, some of the most notable ones are outlined below.
Shifting behaviours at both an organisational and individual level are key to accelerating this game change!
Helgesen & Golesmith: “How Women Rise”