Recognising and eliminating the barriers that stop women from advancing to leadership positions is vital. The business world needs to acknowledge that leaving the gender gap as wide as it does not make economic and business sense at all. It is high time we moved beyond business as usual and made the workforce more diverse and more inclusive.
Although companies have started to take steps to remediate the gender gap situation, women need to own their place in the companies they work in confidently. They must step up, seize every opportunity and maximise their access to leadership positions. As things stand, this will be challenging for those who feel less confident and are fearful of being judged and analysed. Of course, the abominable way women are treated has held them back from leadership positions for a very long time. Women should never doubt their abilities to perform and contribute as well as men, if not better.
The business world must realise women are more qualified than ever before. Instead of just meeting a quota, they should create a diverse, fair and inclusive environment that enable women to thrive. In the end, companies will but maximise their potential, improved decision making and problem-solving, happy workforce and increased creativity and innovation.
As Professor Boris Groysberg of Harvard Business School, pointed out, “there is a big difference between diversity and inclusiveness. Diversity is about counting the numbers; inclusiveness is about making the numbers count. Whether it’s about individuals or companies or countries, the conversation has to shift from talking about whether diversity affects performance to talk about the conditions under which you’d expect diversity to have a positive effect on performance.”
In sum, companies need to devise strategies to root out gender stereotypes and the male mentality that creates barriers for women. For instance, companies must encourage their employees to speak up whenever they perceive prejudice against women. Every company should have a leader whose role will include to be the visible champion for women. Such a leader, as a powerful role model, must ensure that women achievements are promoted and celebrated, and that their development and advancement are enthusiastically advocated for. Finally, companies should provide conscious bias thinking, policies and practices are challenged at all levels, and that the same standard is used for men and women.