I was recently interviewed by CBC News Network Radio regarding a story about an organization devoted to the advancement of women in the workplace having selected a man as the Chair of their advisory board. Although I’ve never been one to point to my gender as impacting my career progress, it served as a reminder of what an important issue this is. I’m taking the opportunity to discuss this topic in a new blog segment, The Diversity Files.
Having women in leadership positions provides a tremendous role model opportunity, in terms of what can be achieved in the business world. I was fortunate to grow up in an environment where I believed that anything was possible, in terms of the career that I could have. It was not until I was much older that I appreciated the fact that not all girls (and boys, for that matter) have this experience. There are also many points in a person’s career where discouragement could set in; being passed over for an advancement opportunity or pay raise, encountering difficult co-workers, or the boss who doesn’t support your efforts (or, perhaps, has the audacity to take credit for your work!). These moments can call into question if it’s worth the effort, if that lifelong goal is really achievable.
It’s no secret that, even in 2017, women are still underrepresented in a number of senior level roles, including that of business owner, the executive ranks, and on governance Boards. In too many cases, women are so badly underrepresented, it is difficult, if not impossible, to explain.
Studies have found that companies who employ more women in the C-Suite are more profitable, and those who have women on their Boards generate better performance at the governance level. Since strong financial results and better corporate performance are integral to building shareholder wealth, it begs the question: why are there not more women in the senior ranks of so many companies? Why? Based on these findings alone, it doesn’t add up, not to mention what it means on a human level; the very thought that one being is somehow lesser than another.
This reality points to the business world itself. Could there be something systemic that makes it less likely for women to progress to senior levels? Unlocking the code to resolve this problem isn’t a casual matter; rather, it is integral to driving better results and fostering inclusion. It is also simply the right thing to do.
It is not as if there is a lack of qualified women, educated in business and in the corporate world, to fill these roles. Solutions lie in more women pursuing senior level positions, being supported when they do, as well as given their fair amount of the opportunity; they have earned it! Women, without question, have the ability to perform well in senior roles, and doing so just doesn’t drive results; it represents a powerful opportunity to set an example for the next generation. Heaven knows, they are watching.