Lesson in Leadership

Women in Leadership

Source | ChapmanCG : By Matthew Chapman

Despite the plethora of technological advances and diversity and inclusion efforts of the past few decades, the stark gender bias in leadership roles still remains. Women are more likely to attend college, graduate, and enter the workforce, yet there are less than 5% of females at the helm of global multinational organisations.

Therese Sevaldsen, Head of Human Resources for the Middle East and Turkey at Philips, discusses women in leadership roles and the unconscious gender bias that still exists today.

Even though women make up approximately 50% of the global workforce, their representation in leadership roles still lags far behind. Companies have made great efforts to hire more female staff, but the problem of how to advance women up the leadership ranks still persists.

“It’s an unconscious bias,” says Therese Sevaldsen, Head of Human Resources for the Middle East and Turkey at Philips, who believes that organisations and hiring managers do not set out to promote or hire mostly males into leadership roles. “However, you’re more than likely recruiting or promoting someone like yourself, and while that is normal, it is detrimental to creating a diverse workplace.”

Getting the Balance Right

So is the key to solving the leadership gender imbalance in your organisation as simple as hiring and promoting more women? Sevaldsen says yes and no. “A part of the problem is in the way we women think. We have a tendency to work harder and harder, and then believe that our hard work will be recognised and rewarded. But it doesn’t work that way.”

Men are great at getting the exposure. They speak up. They take chances. “These are generalisations and can’t be applied to all, but on average, women are more humble. We wait until we can do 80% of a job, and then we wait until we can do it well before we raise our hands for a role or promotion. But men are more likely to think I can do about 25%, I’ll give it a go. Men are more inherent risk takers versus women need to feel certain that they can do the job.”

3 Steps to Achieving Gender Balance in Leadership

Step 1: Start by creating awareness

Sevaldsen advises that managers talk about the gender balance in management meetings, discuss it at the next strategy session. Make it a strategic initiative.

Step 2: Then commit

Simply telling the Head of Talent Acquisition or Talent Management that your organisation wants more female leaders is far from enough. Senior managers, regional and line managers must all be aware of what the company is trying to achieve.

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