Women in Leadership: How to increase the appalling ratio?

  • Created Date28 Feb, 2019
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Current time is always the right time to promote a hardworking and deserving woman into a leadership role. Although the time has seen and shown us the power of women’s leadership, it still needs a few innovative steps by the organizations.

Women have proved—and are still doing—time and again that a leader is not a face that represents a gender, age or race but a leader holds the hands of their subordinates and followers. A leader does not guide them to follow a path but walk with them, digging their own feet in the marshy land. Women have the intrinsic quality to manage things because they do it very well at their homes. They don’t need rigorous training as the leadership skills develops quickly without much hand holding.

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But saying so will not help without an external effort. Creating the right position, making the work environment favorable for them and forcing the pay gap to vanish will help. Handing over leadership roles to women would only benefit organizations and teams by taking the advantages of their strong will and shaping the things rightly looking at the future. Also, this will bring equality in the workplace. Let us see a few aspects of this topic

What are the challenges women face in the workplace?

Gender biasing

Although the booming corporate sector has reduced the biasing in the jobs based on gender, government sectors and certain verticals still do not agree to hire women employees as frequently as they hire male employees. The fields like manufacturing, mining, and jobs related to travel and extraneous physical activities still demand male candidates.

The questions about marriage and children still find a way to leak into the interviews although considered offensive. The reason is, organizations are not ready to accommodate the benefits a female employee gets during maternity.

Many jobs are still considered more women-centric like in the field of education and arts while technical jobs are still considered more suitable for men. This categorization of jobs is a complete let down for aspiring women.

Harassment

Not only sexual offenders pry women, the female employees usually become the focus of jokes, lewd remarks, offensive tones, and derogatory comments. Even after deploying strict POSH (Prevention of Sexual Harassment) rules, the female employees have to face obscene remarks or comments on their dressing style, ethnicity, caregiving choices and family-related matters, which loosen their morale.

Additionally, they become the victim of bullying by managers and male employees if they are not willing to take up night shifts, frequent travel tasks, and weekend work. Many good-looking women are considered incompetent at work while racial remarks are also common.

A report suggested that 2 women in India are harassed at workplace daily which is a saddening number. #Metoo is not a rage without any reason.

Pay Gap

The fight for equality is never-ending. Women have been proving themselves worthy of high-paying jobs but the numbers still crib to differ. Over the last decade, the situation has improved but could not reach the level of similarity. Most countries still show a huge wage gap for an equally qualified and capable woman as compared to the male counterpart.

The gap has reduced by almost 5% in India from 24.8% in 2016 to 20% in 2018 and the most daunting fact about pay variation analysis said the gap increases with experience. The same gap was 16% in Europe in 2016 as stated in this report.

While World Economic Forum’s 2018 year-end report suggested that 202 years would be the marginal time to bring the gender pay gap to negligible, the world average difference still stays at 16% in the gap.

The right balance

Women have always been handling the crucial role of managing the house and the family. And a challenging role at the workplace makes it tougher for them to strike the balance. An ailing member back in the family, school functions and appointments and other such needs compel them to juggle between work and personal needs. There are many organizations, which allow employees to work at a flexible schedule and telecommute in the hours of need. A survey by Flexjobs illustrated that 84% of working parents valued flexibility over salary.

But does only flexibility help them to reach a balance? The answer would be NO.

The right balance is not only about availability at the right time and right place but after managing the clock wisely, the hard work at the office should be rewarded on time. Women have to struggle continuously to achieve promotions, pay hike and appreciation in lieu of opting flexibility.

Insecurity

The insecurity of being sacked or lack of growth due to not able to perform as per the expectations is common among women. And what stops them to perform well? Almost all the above issues. But a few others, which contribute badly, are gossips and ego clash. If a woman rises to better designation or role, the journey towards the position is questioned against her dignity. If not that, her ability to handle the bigger and better role—which does not need any stamping or proof—is always questioned by all.

And what fuels such speculations? Coffee time gossips and restroom rubbish.

Being a minority in Indian workplaces, the women are always questioned about their capability and availability.

How can these challenges be resolved?

By organization

Organizations play a crucial role in the growth of their employees. To reduce the problems women face at work, organizations have to design better and accommodative guidelines. Stricter POSH rules and adhering to the guidelines are needed however minuscule appears the case. A mildly lewd remark may not look ugly in the first harassment story. But it can pave ways to more complex issues if left unattended. The open door policies are usually laid out long and wide but there are few who actually follow them.

The organizations need to improve the work culture to promote women employees equally like their male counterparts irrespective of the maternity benefits they enjoy, the flexibility they opt for and leaves they take due to personal demands. Also, new dedicated roles should be created for guiding them achieve balance. This would also help them handle the common issues effectively.

Organizations should offer packages based on the caliber unbiased of gender. More and more firms are adopting a flexible work culture, which is a boon for the women employees. But the idea needs a widespread adoption. Provision of childcare facilities at the premises give much-needed relief to the mothers.

Apart from all the work-related benefits, a counseling system should be settled by the organizations to help women employees fight through personal and emotional imbalance.

By the women themselves

As the saying goes, you make your own career. The women of the digital era are aware of their stature and career needs but they have to take a stand for themselves even more than before. Do not negotiate at the salary structure while accepting an offer just because you might go for a long parental break or you are more susceptible to leaves. You always give your best and should ask what you deserve.

Further, women should realize the power of policies and execute them according to the need. POSH and open door policies—if known well—are very helpful in breaking the glass ceilings and challenging the harassment at work.

Women have the innate power of creativity, which they should use in the work to be more productive. Though everyone has the same amount of time in a day but owing to more responsibilities, women need to be more productive and are compelled to organize the tasks properly. They should deploy their full creativity towards the job and productivity.

Benefits of women in executive and leadership positions

Having said all the above, women still occupy very few seats in the boardrooms and at top executive posts, which is appalling. The number among the Fortune 500 companies has fallen by 25% from 2017 to 2018 as per the report. As per a press release, India ranks widely low—third from bottom—in the scale of women executives.

Women are more interactive and creative which brings a new perspective to the situation and solutions to the problems. The role of a mentor as a leader has always been crucial. Being a lifelong teacher at home, women can play the role smoothly and efficiently. The mentorship comes inherently to them due to effective communication and collaboration. Thus, making them a great fit for the leadership roles.

With diversity on the board, the problem solving gets a newer outlook and better reasoning. Hence, women perform great in executive roles as they value diversity and collaboration.

Parting thoughts

Workplace woes are common for employees. Males face them too, handle them and come out well. Women sometimes get hooked due to emotional barriers which only they can overcome. Deciding what suits you best for your career advancement is the right key. Do not linger to a job emotionally if it is not satisfying your financial needs or professional targets. Coming out of the rut is necessary.

With more women targeting entrepreneurship, the time is seeing a change slowly. The change needs a speed, which can be induced after continuous learning. Accepting the weaknesses and leveraging the strengths by the organizations would aid the slow rising numbers.

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