For a long time, women around the world have voiced their discontent on the disparity in pay scale and the lack of growth opportunities in the corporate sector. No matter how many reports highlight the importance of female leadership; companies are still very sceptical about handing over leadership roles to women because of a deep-rooted belief that women are just secondary earners.
In fact, I was appalled to read that an estimated number of over 11 to 18 lakh women might lose their jobs in FY 2018-2019 because of the amendment in the maternity benefit act made last year.
While I apprehensively mulled over women’s future in Corporates, I remembered reading the heart-warming journey of Dhivya Suryadevara from being a Chennai girl to becoming the CFO of General Motors. A daughter of a single mother, Dhivya has worked very hard to reach this position. And she is not the only female leader in the company. A 110-year-old automaker company, General Motors is one of the rare companies where both the CEO and CFO are women. It shows that the company is not buoyed by a traditional mindset and places more importance on talent than gender.
Several companies such as Pepsico, IBM, and Oracle also have women CEOs. In India too, we have strong women like Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Vinita Bali, Shobhana Bhartia, Naina Lal Kidwai, and so many more who are leading large enterprises with their sharp business acumen.
So what’s bringing the shift in company’s attitude towards women?
The companies have started taking notice of women’s potential to drive the growth. The management is now giving women positions, which were earlier, restricted to men and there are several reasons for this shift. Here are some that I think have led to the change:
#1 – Women have a high emotional quotient
You might ask how emotions are related to business. Well, there’s a correlation between emotional quotient and business growth. Businesses deal with employees and needless to say; employees have emotions. An understanding of emotions helps leaders to understand the behaviour and potential of the employees and leverage it accordingly. Women understand emotions well, thus making it easier for them to motivate and nurture the employees to perform better.
#2 – Women can multi-task and make decisions quickly
Pompous as it might sound, but multi-tasking is in our DNA. We have learned the art of balancing home and work with equal élan. So, it’s a natural progression for women when they take up a leadership role. They can manage multiple responsibilities with efficiency and take crucial decisions quickly.
#3 – Women are loyal and ethical
Women leaders tend to hold themselves accountable for every decision. Ethical behaviour is a quality that every organization appreciates. Women employees also stay for long tenures in companies, thus showing their loyalty towards it.
#4 – Women have admirable communication skills
Criticize us for talking a lot, but hey, this quality proves to be very helpful in a position of leadership. A good leader is the one who communicates their message unambiguously to their team, and a woman discusses her ideas in detail. By nature, women talk their mind aloud as it helps them articulate their thoughts better. It is also beneficial for the team as it gives them a clear perspective of what is expected out of them. Good communication skills are also crucial for business growth as it helps the organization to explain their value proposition to the client in an effective way.
#5 – Women possess good negotiation skills
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. You have seen us negotiate everywhere for a good deal, so it comes naturally to us. Negotiation skills are critical in every business especially when a business deal is at the final stage of completion. Women leaders have the knack for negotiating for a better deal with the clients without disrupting the relationship with them.
#6 – Women are great mentors
As women, we have struggled hard to climb up the corporate ladder. So, we understand the importance of mentoring others and encouraging them to excel in their area of expertise. Women leaders have the skill of identifying talents and nurturing them to realize their potential.
Future of women leaders
Despite proven results that women can be good leaders, it is shocking to know that they constitute only 5% of the Fortune 500 list of CEOs. To ensure the upward movement of women as leaders, it is necessary to ensure that the pipeline of female talent is developed. With a change in the vision of people from a male-heroic figure who leads a group to a leader who creates a suitable environment for everybody to work in collectively, we can say that the things are working in the direction of women leadership. The concept of ‘collective genius’ given by Linda Hill emphasizes the same fact. People are now more willing to focus on learning collectively and in environments specifically created to promote communication openly. A balanced team is preferred over a specific gender dominated team. This open-mindedness encourages women to take higher positions and advance in their career. Moving along with this concept, I am optimistic that we will see more women CEOs in future and that glass ceiling will become a thing of the past.