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Gender Equality in Executive Jobs: How to Bring Women Into the Boardroom

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When the pandemic first struck, multiple countries around the world closed their borders. There were a few countries, however, that fared significantly better than all the rest—not only in containing the spread of the virus but also in preventing unnecessary deaths. 

Steered by women at the helm––New Zealand, Germany, Finland, Denmark, and Taiwan––navigated these unprecedented waters. 

The ​​Centre for Economic Policy Research and the World Economic Forum reports this “may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses adopted by female leaders.”

Despite the gains and accomplishments made by many trailblazing women across the globe, women remain noticeably absent from executive roles in most companies, regardless of the industry or location. 

This lack of diversity keeps the gender gap wide open, and women are left without a voice at the top or access to the resources and opportunities they deserve. 

Read on to discover how your company could benefit from having women crash its executive glass ceiling.

Gender equality in executive jobs in 2021

What do we mean by gender equality, and how is it measured?

At its core, gender equality––especially in the workplace––is equal access by both women and men to resources.

This might include opportunities to make meaningful decisions, have their voice heard/a platform to use their voice, autonomy to decide their schedule and work-life balance, and enjoy access to a clear path to rise to the top of the corporate ladder.

The Global Citizen organization reports the latest Global Gender Gap report identifies four key criteria in measuring gender equality:

  • Economic participation and opportunity
  • Health and survival
  • Attainment of education
  • Political empowerment

Who runs the (business) world? Girls!

Apologies to our beloved Beyoncé, but we’re not even close to positioning women in the majority, much less dominating executive positions across businesses worldwide. 

Even before the pandemic, the boardroom (and key leadership positions) remained largely shuttered to women.

Once the pandemic hit, however, we witnessed a mass exodus of women leaving their careers behind to teach their kids at home––without the benefit of adding lead teacher to their CVs, either. They’ve assumed extra, exhaustion-inducing duties on top of their normal, professional workload.

Although a few years have passed, a recent report indicates women still only fill 8% of executive board positions and roughly 10% of C-suite positions.

Numerous systemic barriers and business-specific obstacles stand in the way of women staying in the workplace or rising within its ranks, much less thriving there.

Prioritising gender equality for your key, executive positions can benefit the women you onboard, your company’s ethos, and finally, your company’s bottom line.

In the greater scheme of things, by proactively hiring women in executive roles, it’s also an opportunity to rewrite the leadership narrative both within the company, the industry at large, and beyond.

Key benefits to prioritising gender equality in senior roles

On-boarding a wealth of diverse perspectives and experiences

Women bring a deep and diverse well of skills, expertise, and experiences to the C-suite table. 

For one, not only are they accustomed to multitasking endless personal and professional responsibilities, but, for many women, their personal and professional journey has been wrought with adversity, harassment, and exploitation.

And, yet, despite those experiences, women often thrive in leadership positions, by offering measured decision-making, collaborative, team-centric communication, and both creative and empathetic solutions to the same-old corporate problems. 

Increased profits and open to transformation

Research shows companies that bring more women into C-suite roles are more profitable, embrace transformation, and overall outperform businesses that don’t. 

“Female executives don’t just offer specific new ideas to the team; their presence actually makes the Top Management Team (TMT) collectively more open to change and less comfortable with risk-taking.” 

How to prioritise diversity across the board

Provide flexible working arrangements

When an employee has the freedom to determine the type of work schedule and environment that works best for them, it can give them more ownership (and a voice) in their role.

It can also make them happier working within your company, help them be more productive (without burning out), so they’ll be less likely to look for alternative, flexible employment. 

Yes, you could lose top talent to a more flex-minded company.

Most importantly, though, women have a voice, and listening to their needs and what works and doesn’t work for them is better for their well-being and mental health, and ultimately for your evolving work culture.

By and large, an in-person, nine-to-five workday simply isn’t doable, much less appealing, for many workers anymore, especially women. Countless women have placed their careers or advancement on hold because they’re the ones who shoulder most of the responsibilities at home, especially childcare. 

The pandemic has only exasperated this. With schools closing and kids learning remotely, women, for the most part, have been the ones taking on the extra workload. Not to mention, this has ushered in a unique type of burnout for many women.

You can define flexible working in any number of ways, including any or all of the following that would appeal to women of top talent:

  • A shorter/condensed, in-person, or remote work week (three or four days, instead of five or six)
  • Remote work/work-from-home
  • Telecommuting
  • Job sharing (where two or more people share a role and split the hours)
  • Compressed hours
  • Part-time opportunity

Highlight diversity as a part of your brand 

If valuing broad and unique perspectives is integral to the vision you have for your company, then integrate it into your corporate ethos. 

Simply put—if you’re going to talk the talk, then you need to walk the walk. 

A good place to start is any one (or all) of the following practices:

  • Ensure your hiring criteria and policies include inclusive language and avoid gendered language
  • Purposefully and actively involve and seek input from women and POC into key decision-making
  • Follow-through by filling key, decision-making roles with women and POC
  • Showcase the profiles and testimonies of your employees on your website and social media
  • Offer in-house mentorship opportunities and unconscious bias training

Avoid unconscious bias 

As human beings, we make sense of the world through the lens of our own experiences. 

As a result, we tend to categorize people, behaviours, and language into categories. These views about someone else––especially a potential co-executive––may not be accurate, reasonable, or justified at all. 

This is unconscious bias (implicit bias), and it can wear many costumes, but here are two ways it can pop up in the hiring process:

  • When we think better of someone because we believe we’re like them
  • When we think less of someone because that person is different from us, for example (as in someone from a different gender, race, or background)

Unconscious bias may be unavoidable, but that doesn’t justify its presence in your hiring practices or company’s policies. 

This is why holding yourself and your team accountable to avoid it as much as possible is critical.

One way to do this is to reflect on why you make certain hiring decisions. For instance, did you make them on merit alone, or did you just have a “gut feeling” the person would fit in? The latter is what you may want to 

Go beyond networking

If you want to diversify your company’s executive-level roles, the last thing you want to do is recruit from your own immediate or extended network. 

Doing so is simply like opening the door for welcoming affinity bias—when we surround ourselves (or hire) people just like ourselves. 

As a consequence, networking in this way may only stunt your company’s growth, leading to more of the “same old” mindset/solutions/vision for your company.

Instead, scale organically and ethically. One way to do that is to on-board women, non-binary individuals, and people of colour who carry a diverse range of life experiences and perspectives.

They’ll undoubtedly tap into them when it comes to solving any number of your company’s problems and, as a result, propose fresh, out-of-the-box solutions.

Looking to fill your next executive position?

The future of business is equality, and that starts with hiring more women in the C-Suite. No matter the type of business you run or the industry you’re a part of, you need a diverse and inclusive team at all levels, especially at the top.

At Juggle, our professionals prescreen all potential applicants from the talent pool for you. With gender diversity and inclusion in mind, we utilise “AI matching” saving you time and resources, so that you evaluate candidates based on their qualifications. 

Our affordable, full-stop platform will help you hire diverse talent and see you through the hiring and onboarding process. With our stress-free approach and zero up-front costs, our team of experts will be there to guide you through the process. 

Sign up today, and discover how quickly and efficiently your executive glass ceilings can shatter.

Mya Ramanan

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