Diversity in workspace has been a topic of discussion across borders and boardrooms. Yet there is so less that has been accomplished in real corporate world. Women start careers in business and other professions with the same level of intelligence, education, and commitment as men. Yet comparatively few reach the top echelons. Among thought leaders these widening gap and bend of views are not only a classic example of leaking bucket but also a lethargic approach towards why world has an increasingly urgent need for more leaders.
Apparently on the other hand, there are certain industry findings and reports that have brought interesting facts about why women are potential growth driver in a corporate and are a must part of a leadership team. A recent Women Matter report by McKinsey showed that in developing markets the additional power of companies who have women in their teams roles increased by 25 per cent and companies with top quartile representation of women in executive committees perform significantly better than companies with no women on top. In light of these facts, one thing that comes glaring is the gap that gender has in India at the C-suite level. This gap matters not only because the familiar glass ceiling is unfair, but also because there is a need for all men and women with the brains, the desire, and the perseverance to fulfill their potential and leave their mark.
To strengthen the argument on ‘why women at leadership’, it would be appropriate to mention the ilk of Sheryl Shandberg, Marissa Mayer, Indira Nooyi, Ginni Rometty; strong-willed, hardworking and purpose-driven women. It is under their leadership the entities have completely transformed the outlook on economies and geographies, for better! And on the other hand, our traditional women who have always upheld traditions, values and legacy of our families: grandmothers, wives and sisters. The sides of the same coin represent two diverse yet unique personalities of a woman, their inherent crisis management skills and masters of opportunity management.
It is near to impossible to respect, value and admire great leadership if one can’t identify what makes a leader great. Because of this, the identity crisis exists in today’s workplace which something that women leaders in particular have been facing for much too long. While the tide is changing and more women are being elevated into leadership roles, there is still much work to do. As women continue their upward trajectory in the business world, they are yet to be fully appreciated for the unique qualities and abilities they bring to the workplace. It is time to shift the discussion away from issue of equality and instead focus on this as a massive business opportunity. Instead of continuing to discuss the problem, we ought to present solutions: roadmaps to businesses that are better balanced, arguments that help companies and managers understand and benefit from shifting global gender balances.
The recent announcement of a cross-industry women’s leadership development program, ‘Tanmatra’ is another step towards leveraging the best collective practical experience and research to prepare women for leadership in the Indian business community. The program will also help to create a common networking platform for high-potential women. Initiatives like these are critical to not just enabling women leaders but also bringing the right attention from businesses towards it.
This the shift in thinking on the ‘why’ of women not making it to top positions and bringing the focus to analysing what is right with companies and leaders that do build gender balanced leadership teams – and tap into the resulting competitive edge. Smart leaders have understood for a while now that gender balance delivers better and more sustainable performance. Those companies with more gender-balanced leadership teams out-perform those with less. While the skeptics will spend another decade resisting this fact with demands to prove causality, the best leaders prefer leading the charge to following it. So it would now make sense to focus on the leadership competencies that enable certain leaders to build gender-balanced organizations.
The world around us is going through historic shifts and so is the need for more peaceful evolutions within an organization: the gradual rebalancing of the genders’ social, educational and economic power. This rise and its consequences need to be better understood and managed by most businesses and managers. If gender diversity bring about healthy competitive advantage in the system, who would want to stick to just debates?