Women in Leadership – Gaining the Competitive Advantage
When talking about women in leadership, the statistics tell it all. Around the world, women are repeatedly not been represented at the ‘leadership table’ sufficiently, if at all. Not only leaving a slanted male gender bias in the areas of politics, business and law to name a few.
This disparity brings with it a range of complications in all aspects of government, business and society at large.
There are countless advantages women bring to modern day businesses. Their ‘competitive edge,’ should never be under-estimated. Consider these staggering outcomes of a recent worldwide research conducted on the impact of women in leadership roles.
According to Forbes Magazine:
The outcome of one of the most comprehensive worldwide survey’s ever conducted indicates that companies that perform best financially have the greatest number of women in leadership roles. In the top 20% of highly performing companies financially, 27% of leaders are women. Among the bottom 20% of financial performers, only 19% of leaders are women.
Australian Women in Leadership:
According to statistics women are under-represented in leadership positions in all sectors of the paid workforce. A perfect example being that women held 35.3 percent of Government board Appointments, as at June 30 2011. In legal fields, for example, the percentage is even less, and whilst 61.4% of all law graduates are females, women hold only about 22% of the most senior positions in law firms. In the Federal Court of Australia, women make up on 16% of the bench.
Statistics in corporate Australia are more concerning. They indicate that only 8.4% of Board Directorships are women. Of even greater concern is that the number of women directors has increased only 0.2% since 2002. (Source: The EOWA 2010 Australian Census of Women in Leadership.)
The International Context:
Historically the incidence of women prime ministers has not been impressive either, with less than 2% of women leading countries.
Internationally, there has been significant developments in the area of women on boards. Reforms set in motion, in order to strengthen the representation of women at decision making levels are underway. In countries such as Norway and Spain governments have introduced mandatory quotas that require a specific percentage of women to sit on boards and in other leadership roles.
It’s not about Tokenism in Business:
Equally important is the fact that women appointed to to leadership positions in business, is not about ‘getting the gender balance right’ just for the sake of it. There is a genuine and transparent movement towards creating leadership gender equality within organisations. This is due to the skills, competencies and leadership capacity that both males and females bring to the organisation.
In addition to this, there is a deep appreciation of the contributions both women and men make to the overall success of an organisation. and continued and relentless efforts made to accommodate parenting and raising children as part of the portfolio of both sexes. Having a child does not necessary mean a woman should give up her career.
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