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Nationwide, the number of women in leadership roles is growing. Over the last seven years specifically, the percentage of female representation in the C-suite has jumped from 17% to a more impressive 21%. Additionally, up to 44% of companies now have at least three women in executive positions.
With all of that said, corporate America is still lagging behind the rest of the western world, where at least 40% of all director positions are now held by women. This has understandably sparked continued calls for more gender equality in the workplace. But why do we really need women in leadership roles? And what unique qualities do women bring to the male-dominated business table?
Here are three (out of many!) reasons why women make great and invaluable leaders.
1. Women Pay It Forward
First and foremost, women understand the power of reciprocity. Rather than cultivating a cutthroat environment, women leaders create a culture of supporting other women in future leadership. Often, women are even at the forefront of creating programs that bridge the gap and break the glass ceiling in the workplace. These include initiatives like creating workshops and solutions that help women learn valuable skills and connect with mentors.
Mentorship specifically, has been deemed valuable by 97% of professionals –– although only 37% have one. Of those who do have mentors though, 89% pay it forward and become mentors themselves. By espousing this support system, women leaders are able to nourish not just their current workforce but also the next generation’s leaders.
2. Women Are Effective In Crises
Secondly, women have been proven to be highly effective in a bind. Across the major crises of the last few years, organizations led by women have been more proactive and productive. As a matter of fact, female leaders consistently scored higher than their male counterparts in national surveys concerning workplace skills. And their lead widened even more during the pandemic.
A few of the notable workplace skills in this regard include communication, adaptability, and the ability to take on new tasks quickly. Specifically, women were found to be better communicators because they spend more time and energy conversing, with an average of up to 20,000 words spoken daily. Women are also powered by 10% more brain cells that have been proven to make them more adaptive to challenges. And on top of all this, research also shows that women can get more tasks done in a shorter time because they can switch between responsibilities 8% faster than men. All in all, this makes women uniquely qualified to thrive in otherwise crippling crises.
3. Women Encourage Compassionate Behavior
Last but not the least, women leaders also know the value of compassion. Not to be confused with being a pushover or being “too soft,” showing compassion in leadership helps encourage productivity, trust, and loyalty in employees. And according to studies from 423 companies in North America, 31% of women have been found to provide better emotional support to employees. Up to 61% of women leaders were also said to check in on their employees’ wellbeing more actively. Aside from this, with worker burnout rising, 21% of women leaders have also been able to better manage employee burnout.
With so much still to be done in terms of workplace diversity, equity, and inclusivity, it’s also noteworthy that women have been found to be more active in contributing to these efforts. This is especially helpful for other minority groups who still lack representation or champions in the corporate setup.
Despite all these laudable qualities and distinct advantages, only 5% of the country’s major corporations are led by women. This underscores a glaring need to push for more equality and support more women in higher positions. At the end of the day, having more women leaders isn’t an effort to simply “give women a break” or push men out, as some will argue. Rather, it is a necessary step towards equality of opportunity for everyone –– and one that will benefit a great many businesses.
For more about inspiring women in leadership, please look through the rest of the blog here.