Diversity or Equality Series : How to increase women in leadership?

Quick summary for those who missed my previous article in this Diversity or Equality series. We spoke of the important quality women need to build “Assertiveness” and the first step in moving to build a equal world “Identify your sponsors”, those people in leadership who are willing to give in their time and are commited to the cause. 

We now move to the next step in building a equal world. Note I keep calling out an”equal” world, the reason behind this is the moment we say “Gender Diversity” and run interventions to support it, it somewhere give’s us the feeling of reservation or discrimination towards one gender, which is not the case here and now at present. Why? Read on.

Well, let me ask you all – How many years till organizations can look at having 30- 40% women representation in their boards? I already shared that its going to take 117 years to achieve gender parity in my last article. 

Surprise – a research says that around 32 % of the firms surveyed feel it will take women 10-25 years to reach 30-40% board representation! So, how do we increase women in leadership ?

The first step is to know where we are and where we want to be, remember what’s never measured never gets done. I will urge organizations to embark on a “Gender Audit”, this will give D&I/HR teams data of where you stand vis-à-vis your peers and where you need to focus on, and what form of goals we need to establish to reach where we want to be. That bring's us to the most important agenda – How do we increase women representation in leadership? The answer is not so simple since research says that more than 76% of organizations are effective in attracting and retaining women talent, while only 56% believe they are good at identifying and promoting women leaders!! Less than one fifth of the organizations surveyed have formal programs to identify and develop women to leadership levels. So, what could you do in your firm?

A. Ask the female employees what the company could do to improve their senior leader pipeline?
B. Implement formal programs to identify and develop women leaders?

I personally think, that B. is a great way to proceed, since research says that most men believe that one of the barrier for a women to rogress/advance career in the firm is the shortage of women andidates. Only 7% women agreed on this???

Do women think there are enough deserving candidates, yet they don’t get an opportunity at leadership roles? OR is there really a shortage of women candidates? While the exact answer is independent to each firm and is still being explored, let me shift your attention to something/s that you could look at doing to increase women representation in leadership roles. Implementing the below interventions will act as enablers to advancing women to leadership.

1. Mentoring from senior leaders
2. Creating a inclusive corporate culture that supports gender diversity
3. Building strong female role models in the organization
4. Mandatory representation of women in project teams, quality circles, innovation hubs etc within the firm
5. Providing functional/technical learning support and leadership development program support to build capability

While the list could go on, what is important is not just drawing out a long plan but being able to start off the plan, being able to take that small step, take that committed stand to build a gender equal world. If you answer to the question I pose below is YES, man or women I assure you will reach your goal. If the answer is No/Maybe then you have a impossible mountain to climb, so why bother!


Next in the Diversity or Equality series, I will focus on what women need to prioritise to advance and make their presence felt in the organization, I will share the tips for this across levels (Junior/Mid/Senior) in the firm and look at how it differs. How can women move away from “You can&’t see me” in board rooms to “Here I am” !!

Stay Glued, Stay committed!