In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2019, you have probably seen the hashtag #BalanceForBetter trending everywhere.
For years, we have heard that gender inequality must be addressed in order for businesses to perform even better than they are doing now. In fact, there is a lot of research highlighting the fact that diverse teams bring varied perspectives that contribute to innovation and profitability, yet only one in five senior leaders is a woman and fewer than one in 30 is from a Black, Asian or another ethnic minority background, according to a new study from McKinsey.
It has also been proven that more diverse teams consistently produce more successful and accurate solutions to complex challenges increasing profitability of their business. According to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, an increase in corporate leadership to 30% female is associated with a 1% increase in net margin, which translates to a 15% increase in profitability for a typical business. (Pipeline Equality, 2018) What is interesting is that no matter how this data was manipulated, increasing female leadership was a positive change for all companies. There was no way to create a different outcome. This goes to show that ultimately what improves profitability is achieving some sort of balance.
As you know, here is FL, we are very passionate about changing these numbers and have dedicated our lives to this purpose. So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to encourage you to test yourselves and your contributions, but after that, we need to get to work!
Here are 5 key ways you can contribute to promoting gender-balance in your organisation. Just pick one or two and you will be making more of a difference than you can imagine.
- Put yourself forward for leadership roles. Let me let you in on a secret. Most people suffer from imposter syndrome and only a few people ever feel totally ready for the next step up in their careers. It wouldn’t be challenging if you felt 100% ready for your next opportunity. So put yourself forward and kick your support network into gear to help you thrive in your new role.
- Apply for Board roles. There are many vacant non-executive board roles. Most of them are desperately looking for women – yes they are desperate to have you on their board. Both entrepreneurs and women working in organisations have a lot to offer. There are many niche board jobs that focus on just board vacancies. Apply to the roles and use your voice to contribute to the decisions that are being made – whether it is at your local school, charity etc. Your voice and presence is needed in that board room.
- Develop your leadership skills. If you don’t feel ready to lead then develop your leadership skills and the confidence to put yourself forward for these roles. FL runs industry-specific leadership programmes to address the shortage of women in leadership roles. We will take you through a 6-month developmental programme that will change your mindset and how you see yourself. Find out more here.
- Do your research. Is your salary/day rate/fee comparable to others in your industry? There are many salary checkers online and if your organisation employs more than 250 people in the UK, you’ll be able to find information about their gender pay gap here. Once you have the information, do something with it. It's all about negotiation and we have just the cause for you in our Premium Members area.
- Pay it forward by mentoring others. Most of us have a lot to offer but as we tend to undervalue ourselves and what we have to offer, we do not feel ready to support others. Take it from me, everybody has something to offer. There are young women and girls out there that will benefit from your experience. According to our recent "Bridging The Gap" survey, there are not enough role models to inspire the next generation. Young people need diverse role models that they can relate to. You might just be what a young person is looking for.
Finally, remember that you might feel you know exactly what you want and it's not to lead anyone. Even if you 110% know that you don’t want to be in any kind of management or leadership role, just bear in mind that without the confidence to demand better conditions and pay, you will still be underpaid for the role you are currently in.
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