Opinion: Three ways to get more women into leadership positions
Women need to be asked to dance, whereas men are better at tapping you on the shoulder and saying “now it’s my turn”. Men are taught to do the asking. Women are taught to wait to be asked.
Female talents must be encouraged and assured that the company believes they can take the road towards senior management. Here are three ways to do so:
1. Give the job to women
It’s very simple: Search for women and hire them. The old excuses about how they don’t exist or don’t want to are nonsense. Workplace culture still upholds and promotes traditional masculine qualities, meaning it can be difficult to discover a female talent with more feminine values. Ask yourself, are we drawing upon all talent? Talented female employees will move on to companies that know how to do so.
2. Put women on the agenda
Women have no or very few women to look up to professionally, while men have many role models. Many women lack confidence when embarking upon new paths they haven’t seen other women take. Many women, also ambitious ones, don’t like to stand out. That’s why it’s incredibly important to have special initiatives for women. There are plenty of solutions we know work: mentorship programmes, training in feminine and masculine value systems, open and honest role models, equal focus on value systems and behaviour as on professional skills. And let the whole workplace know what you’re doing and why: make discussions of masculine and feminine values part of the agenda in teams and at meetings.
3. Practice communication with women
It’s often necessary to practice communication with, about and to one another across genders. Otherwise you may overlook a talent in a traditional performance review. Talk about how she can deal with self-criticism and self-perception. Get specific about what it takes to become a leader at your company, and offer feedback on personality and performance, direction and success criteria. Back up women who are ready to take the next step.