Over the years, the number of women in C-Suite positions in the Corporate world has grown steadily. Through deliberate programs and approaches, several companies have created better hiring policies, making room for talented, skilled women to take up leadership positions across various sectors and industries.
But an increase in the number of women in senior positions in the workspace does not necessarily mean that we have achieved equal gender representation in the Corporate World.
In this article, Kate K. Kiiza, the Chief Financial Officer and Ag. Executive Director at dfcu Bank writes on a way forward, offering guidance on how organisations and leaders can ensure that more women get into top management and decision- making positions.
- Representation Matters – Writing on Role Models and Representation, Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” In matters of representation, increasing the number of women in managerial positions and at Board level directly ensures gender inclusivity. Importantly, it allows other women within and outside the organisation to pursue their own professional goals because they see themselves reflected in the identities of these female leaders.
- Adopt Gender-Friendly workplace policies: Getting more women into leadership roles starts with companies doing the hard work of attracting and retaining female talent. Women must believe that their employer’s policies provide fair room for career progression and promotion, with access to the same benefits that their male counterparts receive.
Flexible work arrangements which give women the ability to balance work and family responsibilities will also go a long way in advance in their careers. At dfcu Bank, we offer female focused benefits such as extra time in the morning for breastfeeding mothers to spend a little more time with the babies on top of paid maternity leave. They also have the option of hybrid work arrangements which reduces the pressure that comes with balancing multiple responsibilities.
- Address the Gender Pay Gap: Despite having the same skills, experience, and education as their male counterparts, women typically make less money. Consequently, this pay gap reduces women’s lifetime and pension earnings. Closing these gaps in pay between men and women who do the same work is a step to ensuring that women are eager to get into and excel at C-Suite roles.
- Develop skills and nurture talent: Experience is the best of teachers and one of the ways that we can prepare women for top management roles is by entrusting them with supervision of projects or collaborative efforts within our organisations. In addition to being able to showcase the skills they already possess; these opportunities enable them to acquire even more experience necessary for future roles.
- Create a supportive and equitable work culture: Women are more likely to succeed in organizations that prioritize diversity and inclusion, provide opportunities for growth and development, and foster open communication. Employers can create this type of culture by making collaboration a priority, assigning and equal responsibilities matched by equal reward and recognition.
Ensuring that career growth and promotion is tagged to standard parameters for both men and women will also encourage more women to aim for the highest level of responsibility without the worry of being passed over in spite being equally qualified.
The road to getting more women into C-Suite and Board roles begins with identifying and addressing the multitude of issues that discourage women from whole heartedly going after these positions in the first place.
While some of the solutions are dependent on the will and drive of individuals, many of them can only be actualized if organisations and their leaders do the work of allocating resources, creating inclusive workplace policies because the women with the competencies, skills and abilities to do the work already exist.