A key theme of the World Economic Forum this year was women’s leadership equality.
“You have to make it socially unacceptable not to have equal representation at all levels.”
With these strong words, ManpowerGroup CEO Jonas Prising explained why gender equity is so important. He was speaking at a panel at Davos in the context of women only holding 25% of leadership roles despite making up more than half the workforce.
Organizations need to take an active role in sponsoring and promoting women to leadership. Here are steps that organizations can take to increase women in leadership.
Understand women’s workforce needs
There is overlap in what men and women want from work, including a competitive salary and challenging work. But according to ManpowerGroup’s research on what workers want, women’s needs differ. Organizations can attract and retain women in leadership by helping achieve balance for the long run. For women, work must come with flexibility. They continue to do most of the emotional labor and unpaid work at home – balancing work around commitments, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This means flexibility is critical.
Move beyond intent
Good intentions may be a starting point, but they’re not enough. The next step is practicing Conscious Inclusion, or the capacity of people to make decisions, do business and to think and act with the conscious intent of practicing inclusion. Leaders are responsible for implementing ways to support inclusive leadership, and everyone in the organization can educate themselves with the benefits of conscious inclusion.
Provide structure for women to grow
Technology has the ability to facilitate lifelong learning. This not only allows women to upskill and remain relevant throughout their careers but allows them to do so in an environment that offers the flexibility needed to successfully balance work and home. Organizations that support this will become talent magnets for high-performing women.
At Davos, leaders were in agreement that achieving women’s parity is not “someone else’s job” –– it’s everyone inside an organization. This is especially true for leaders who can act now with not just words, but intent.