Women are underrepresented and underestimated in the world of business. But with an increasing number of well-known organizations like IBM, General Motors and Mondelez International appointing female CEOs, the trend towards women in leadership positions seems to be on the rise.
But there is still the question of why this advancement has been so slow. With women making up more than half of the population, why the industry doesn’t even come close to that representation in leadership roles is extremely baffling.
It is also interesting to think about how the women in these roles got there in the first place. How did they go about getting to the position they are in? In a male-dominated world, women often feel like they have to “act like men” to be accepted into leadership roles.
As women have become more prominent in the world of business, it has become clear that women offer different perspectives and ways of working with and managing people. For instance, women are more motivated by the purpose or meaning of their work than men, who focus more on the compensation and their job titles.
Women also tend to show more emotions at work, according to Joanna Barsh, a senior partner at McKinsey & Company who leads the consulting firm’s effort to develop women leaders. But this doesn’t mean they produce different outcomes. In fact, they often produce the same outcomes, or better. Still, many people believe that male-associated qualities are necessary to effectively, as opposed to feminine qualities like patience and empathy.
To break through this issue, we have to actually embrace diversity in leadership. We need to start creating environments where, instead of being pitted against each other, men and women can work together effectively to get the best results; environments where people will be valued on their merit, and not simply because there’s a specific quota that has to be met.
Diversity in the workplace, and in general, is so important and often overlooked. When people of different backgrounds come together, there can be discomfort. But there are so many benefits from diversity. For example, as we said above, different people will offer different perspectives. If there are too many similar people working in the same place, the outcome will almost always be the same; there won’t be any unique thoughts. What’s the value in that?
Diversity also improves employee performance. When you create an environment where employees see a representation of a variety of cultures, ages and ways of thinking, they will be more comfortable where they are. This leads to happier, more productive employees.
We need to learn to overcome our biases when it comes to representation in the workplace. Humans are biased creatures. While some biases will inevitably creep into the workplace at times, it is important to be aware of these biases and understand how to avoid them.
Women belong in the business world, in leadership positions and in workplaces in general. It is time to start embracing our differences and using diversity to make the workplace more effective and more empowering.