If we talk about the benefits of having women in the leadership of organizations, it might seem that the importance of their management is reduced to that they give good results in the operating account and for the shareholders. But the scope of the expression “the benefits of women’s leadership” in companies is much greater. They also have consequences within the organizational structure, because it favors gender equality. But it also influences the environment, because some of the best benefits for a company end up flowing naturally into society, including, of course, the other benefits, those immaterial ones such as inclusion, diversity, gender equality, flexibility, etc. that are not accounted for in the company’s operating account, but that in the degree of integration that this leadership of women supposes for society, it is of incalculable value, since all the actions that are carried out in this sense will be reproduced (emulated by other organizations) whether or not they are run by women. Because of what is followed in the wake of the current and women with their leadership, in recent years it has marked this trail and left a deep mark of identity of an integrating and transformational leadership.
But on a global scale, the inclusion of women in leadership positions still has a long way to go. A recent study titled “Women in the Boardroom. A Global Perspective” carried out by Deloitte, revealed that Norway ranks first in the world in having the highest percentage of women on boards of directors with 36.7%. But this does not mean that all countries go at the same rate of integration. This is the case of Mexico, where only 6% of the councils have women as members.
It must be borne in mind that the leadership of women can benefit, in turn, the entire workforce of all companies, since it is women when they manage that are more concerned than men about providing different approaches and opportunities, in the internal aspect; externally, connecting with a base of clients and suppliers with whom they seek to share similar interests and challenges, of course the leading woman being the best representative of the interests of the employees, the so-called internal client.
Will women in leadership positions be able to change the future of management?
Our readers can note that we say “in leadership positions” not “women leaders”, so as not to be confused, that, for example, all women who aspire to politics will end up being like the president of the European Commission , Ursula von der Leyen. Or that those who aspire to be in private activity want to be like Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook and founder of Leanin.org
Much has been said in recent years about women’s leadership, but less about what the active participation of all women in senior management positions really represents and the consequences that this may derive for business management in the near future.
The demographics of work and business are changing rapidly, and the male-dominated model is due for an overhaul.
We are immersed in an era in which organizations and society as a whole are permanently influenced by technological innovation. Obviously, how the labor market will be configured from tomorrow we can deduce it, but surely, this influence of the NT’s will continue to alter how the functions (some do not exist yet) are integrated in the jobs and especially, what will be the demographics, including (we assume) a trend toward greater equality of opportunity. Nor should we fail to consider generational problems and the adaptation of each of the so-called Z generation, or the millennials (also called Y generation), to the new demands of employers (on the one hand) and especially, what type of searches, concerns, etc. they have those who demand work (all men and women of any generation who want to enter the labor market).
There are issues that, although they may seem unimportant, such as what is the ideal temperature in an office, both in winter and summer, ends up becoming a factor of disagreement between men and women. It seems that for a long time the temperature of the office was adapted mainly to levels that men believed best suited their body temperature. Of course, there were more men than women in general terms, and especially considering the sector of activity. But it has been at least almost three decades since the integration of women has been massive in almost all sectors of the economy. And while temperatures traditionally relied on men’s metabolism as an indicator, which had consequences for women who more often than not were cold in the office while men were comfortable in shirtsleeves, this anomaly has already changed, which is good news.
And this example is not a minor issue, but the very representation of what the scenarios are like in which women have had to share with men. The question of temperature ceases to be a metaphor to be a faithful reflection of what is considered normal, that is, focusing from the gaze of the man instead of the woman. This implies the organization of work itself around what is convenient for men and their competitive advantages. But this was at least historically because today there are other elements of temperature adjustment such as energy savings. But, in addition, it is still a mirror of what the presence of women in organizations has represented to date, when everything (thoughts and actions) were established from the point of view of men. But there have been two circumstances that have thrown this domain to the ground: the ideal energy consumption that establishes a certain temperature, due to the fact that organizations contribute to sustainable development, on the one hand; the NTs that have made work in any position and function more democratic, because they have affected all employees (men and women) on a global scale equally. The question is whether there are still excuses for not proceeding accordingly. We think there are no more. In other words, it then depends on the leadership of each company, because there should be no differences or advantages, but let’s say it clearly: neither for men nor for women.
And when we say “not even for women”, it does not imply a sexist expression, but simply reflect the need for equal opportunities with transparency and honesty, because the search for a greater quantitative impact of women in organizations does not exclude possibilities from other male candidates. What we mean is that we must continue to support the integration of women at all levels of organizations, but especially in senior management positions.
Because the experience of the last twenty years in which women have gradually broken the famous “glass ceiling”, organizations and society as a whole have benefited. The former, because when women held positions of responsibility that involved managing people, there have always been work environments in which tasks were made easier, there was more flexibility, a better work environment, greater empathy and what characterizes women in general in life above man, his ability to listen and to put himself in another’s place. For this reason, women are much more sensitive to the expression so common in the field of managing emotions that she says “the other also exists”.
Over the past few decades, the demographics of work have been quietly transforming. Globally, 60 percent of college graduates are now women, as are more than 50 percent of managers and professionals, for example in the United States, also positions effectively represented and held by women. And the benefit for the staff has been undoubted, since the new ways of assuming the management of people, exercising a very effective demonstration of the so-called “soft skills”, have favored integration and especially interpersonal relationships.
Advantages of women’s leadership
It is common for any organization, of any size and in any sector, be it a newly created start-up or an SME with a long history of success in the market, to see the figure of women, as entrepreneurs for the first of the situations or as a directive for the latter. But the fact is that in both situations that are repeated over and over again in our society, the presence of women is increasingly common and generates great benefits for businesses. And there is a reason for this: all businesses that want to lead their market must adjust to the constant changes in the business world. And one of the most important changes that has been taking place in the business fabric is that women’s leadership has begun to be understood and more importantly: to be respected. This process has been revolutionizing the structure of organizations, but at the same time, the style of leadership. We are in a time in which the opinion of a man is equally valued as that of a woman.
And to cite some of the advantages to which we refer, we have to:
1º) Greater innovation
Decisions that are very innovative with respect to working conditions, interpersonal relations, labor flexibility, etc., have often been attributed to women’s leadership, taking a risk by introducing such reforms, but in general terms they have been doing so effectively and achieving very good management results. Another different question is whether the way of leading in general is more or less conservative, in relation to taking risks.
The successful experience of women management al direction levels clearly indicates to us that the balance has been balanced very well: innovative internal management and taking risks in relations with the environment in a very controlled manner. Women have shown the ability to evaluate all the opportunities to develop the growth of the businesses they were leading, giving solutions to their problems and finally always making decisions that contributed both to the innovation phase required at that time by the company, and with the follow-up “to the letter” of the objectives set by the board of directors and/or board of directors.
2º) Reinforcement of values and human potential
Although it is true that women ensure that the objectives set are achieved in the organization, they do so without neglecting human potential (they are the born caretakers of talent). They are concerned about the needs of each of the employees, which makes it easier for people to identify with the needs of the business (commit to the management and the company), making the production cycle (whether only service or manufacturing) something more productive and profitable.
3º) Better communication
If there is a differential characteristic to be attributed to the DNA of women’s leadership, this is good communication. Of course, it is the key to the success of any work team, hence the continuous effort of women when leading to design horizontal channels of communication with your workers, in order to gain their trust and make them feel more comfortable reporting their needs and concerns.
4º) Optimization of strategic plans
Women have the ability to reorganize any work team and/or department. Because they know how to delegate functions, as well as being very practical in restructuring both established functions and creating new ones, in addition to having demonstrated the flexibility to lead projects and design strategies that are properly aligned with the objectives set. This form of search for coupling between objectives and actions undertaken by women in leadership positions has been largely successful in a large majority of organizations, including many top-level multinationals.
5º) Greater analytical capacity
Women’s leadership has shown the ability to assess the effectiveness of the productive and strategic process of companies, in addition to having analyzed in depth and correctly how these processes can help achieve business goals. Women’s leadership also has the peculiarity of not looking for mistakes, but rather capitalizing on feed-back processes better than men, to correct where mistakes have been detected or make the necessary changes that help redirect the situation and get it back to the point of initial balance, to restart calmly, but with determination, the corrections that need to be undertaken.
What is female leadership and why is it important?
What is the fundamental support of the success of women’s leadership? Without a doubt, in terms of participation in organizations, not only the substance is of interest, but also the forms. Why? Because of the way in which she manages teams and/or departments, how she distributes jobs and responsibilities, how she articulates strategies and helps in the consolidation and cohesion of the different groups referred to. Because the presence of women from management shows a double commitment: internally, with her people; externally, a greater commitment of the organization to society (the so-called social commitment that is essential for the development of brand value).
Women are true promoters of change, since the traditional model of leadership within companies has been highly questioned in recent years due to the gender gap. The driving factors of social change from the labor market have been three very clear in recent years:
– Equal opportunities.
– The best working conditions.
– The fight against labor discrimination.
And these three elements have promoted the leadership of women as a fundamental pillar within the current organizational culture.
More benefits of women’s leadership
Other benefits for a company to have women leaders include the following:
– Assertiveness: they are more in favor of a conviction based on assertiveness, and not so much on authority. They seek to bring positions closer, rely on professional collaboration and banish hierarchy.
– They establish lasting relationships: whether with their work team, bosses, suppliers or clients, women have a greater facility to generate a relationship of trust that becomes lasting over time.
– They are authentic and supportive: it is easy for them in interpersonal relationships to generate high levels of empathy, which is a basic condition for establishing relationships of trust with their collaborators, bosses and other co-workers, which makes it easier for them to maintain healthy working relationships in all fields.
– Ease of recognizing successes: they are more sensitive than men to the recognition of the work of others, especially when they recognize the triumphs of others and are also always willing to communicate them, which fosters an environment of high work motivation.
– They pay attention to details: women tend to be more detailed than men, which allows them to execute actions in a thorough manner, avoiding mistakes and a bad investment of time.
Notable contributions of women’s leadership in organizations
In situations of conflict and serious crisis, women have shown to be more emotionally prepared to face adversity. What has determined that they empower themselves, not only to adapt to a new circumstance (generally adverse), but also to grow.
– Strategic vision of resource management
Woman has shown to have a good perspective of both the internal functioning of the organization and the environment. In other words, a broad and strategic vision and perception (her perspective of it). Why can she be considered strategic? Because she seeks to make the most of the company’s internal and external capacities, as well as to make rational use (application) of both material and intangible assets.
– Recognizing talent is a priority
Women in leadership positions take the issue of talent development very seriously. It is common to see both education and staff training on their priority agendas, but emphasizing the importance of preparing and promoting the development of employees within the organization, giving opportunities to effort, commitment and, of course, talent.
Women have the ability to know themselves, discover their strengths, accept their mistakes and learn from them.
In this regard, the Research Center for Women in Senior Management (CIMAD) of IPADE (Pan-American Institute of Senior Business Management is the Business School of the Pan-American University, which is a private university in Mexico), released a Management Systems International study that indicates that in companies where female leadership prevails there is a 10.1% return on investment. In companies that do not have this strength, the return is only 7.4%.
This data reaffirms the relevance of adding the talent of women in the field of organizations. In fact, the percentage that has been defined as a global objective for boards of directors is that they have at least 30% women. However, at the current rate, this goal will not possibly be reached until 2027.
In countries such as Mexico, due to the modification in the general provisions applicable to securities issuers and other securities market participants made in August 2017, stock companies are required to disclose certain data, including the sex of the members that make up the board of directors as well as of the relevant directors.
What will companies have to do for the integration of women in the future of management
The first pillar is dialogue and openness on the part of the organizations, essential points of the women’s inclusion scheme proposed by the United Nations. The measures against discrimination at the different organizational levels will allow the change of the patterns of thought and decision making.
The second pillar is recognition. The lack of recognition of the role of women and the inequitable distribution of income are factors that must be worked on.
Currently, there is a gap in wages and in access to different assets, including capital.
Finally, the formal and informal establishment of networks that promote the empowerment of women, of men and women who are aware of the benefits that the aforementioned changes bring to society and to the development of the country, is required.
Antonio Alonso, president of the AEEN (Spanish Business School Association) and general secretary of EUPHE (European Union of Private Higher Education)