5 tips to support female leadership

John Hilton
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Ninety-four percent of APAC business leaders think that millennials will be the ones to achieve equal opportunity for women in the workplace, but they estimate that it will take 13 years, according to new research from Manpower Group.

In particular, the leaders believe it’s imperative to train women to take advantage of opportunities that will develop their leadership.

The biggest barrier to change according to the report (Seven Steps to Conscious Inclusion: A Practical Guide to Accelerating More Women into Leadership) is “an entrenched male culture”.

In fact, 59% of leaders said they believe the single most powerful thing an organisation can do to promote more women leaders is to create a gender neutral culture.

It also found that flexible working is vital for getting more women into leadership positions with 42% agreeing. The findings suggest that in order to make this happen there must be a shift from presentism to performance.

Additionally, 33% of millennial females said no one in their organisation is supporting women into leadership.

It is, however, encouraging to see leaders in the Asia are more optimistic about achieving gender parity compared to those in America and Europe who think it will take 17 and 19 years respectively, said Bridget Beattie, Executive Vice President Asia Pacific Middle East at Right Management.

“They believe that better policies will work and that encouraging and training women to take advantage of opportunities will stretch and develop leadership strengths,” she said.

Moreover, Dimitria Groutsis, Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Work and Organisational Studies at the University of Sydney Business School, told Australasian Lawyer that learning and development first needs to properly resourced to be effective in creating a more inclusive workforce for women.

She also added that it’s crucial to have better management of the learning initiatives.

“It’s one thing to implement an L&D strategy, it’s another thing seeing the fruits of those labours,” she said.

Further, ManpowerGroup’s report offers the following advice to firm leaders and HR professionals.

1. The CEO and C-suite must own change: Make leaders accountable for change and help them create a plan for change.

2. Promote a culture of conscious inclusion, rather than just focusing on more programs.

3. Embrace the concept of ‘One Life’: Redefine your definition of ‘workplace contribution.’ Give employees the flexibility to do their job when and where it suits them, and value outcomes, not presentism.

4. Ensure there are enough women in the succession plan: Ensure women are represented in the leadership pipeline across all business units. Start by challenging people by asking “why not, and what can we do to make it work?”

5. Be accountable, set measurable outcomes: Work with the leadership team to create strategic plan that outlines how the organisation will change, and by when.