Women leadership is a key to business success. Women make up a large percentage of the educated skilled workforce, and businesses that place them in leadership positions have a great advantage.
For the past 40 years women have been reaching high levels of higher education attainment. Since 1947 they have earn more associate degrees than men and since 1981 they have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men. Since 1987 they have earned more master’s degrees and since 2006 more doctoral degrees than men. Women are 50.8 percent of the population. They make up 47 percent of the labor force and 52.5 percent of the college-educated workforce which is an 11 percent increase since 2000.
Even though the number of college educated women in the workforce is rising, the number of women in leadership positions and their earnings are significantly less than for men. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce reports that men with a bachelor’s degree out-earn women with the same degree by about S26,000 per year. Census Bureau data shows that for workers ages 25 to 64, the median income for a man with a degree is $74,900. For a woman that income is $51,600.
Possible explanations for this are that men and women often work in different fields, or that women are just beginning to move into management and leadership positions, and therefore haven’t reached positions that would pay equally. These explanations demonstrate why it is important for the number of women in leadership to grow.
Companies with women in leadership positions have noticeable differences and advantages. They are more profitable and have better reputations, reports the Weber Shandwick Gender Forward Pioneer Index. The Index shows that just 10.9 percent of senior executives at the largest 500 companies in the world are women, and 40 percent of those companies have all-male leadership teams. However, the index also shows that companies listed as a Fortune “Most Admired” company have twice as many women in senior management as companies that haven’t achieved this ranking. At the most admired companies 17 percent of the leadership is women, compared to 8 percent in companies without that ranking.
Women in leadership equals increased profitability for companies. A Peterson Institute for International Economics survey shows that companies that are in the top 25th percentile for gender diversity on their executive teams are 21 percent more likely to experience above average profits.
Company profitability is a good reason for employers to invest in women employees and work to develop women in leadership positons in their company. But it’s not the only reason. Companies need to be adaptable and consider multiple viewpoints to have a strong position in a global market. Encouraging women to use their tuition assistance to rise into leadership positions is advantageous.
Women have many “soft skills” that employers find essential today. They are good at building relationships, they are empathetic and they value collaboration and teamwork. People in the workforce recognize and appreciate these skills. They see women as good leaders:
• 31 percent of adults say women in top executive position are more honest and ethical compared to 3 percent believing men are
• 30 percent say women do a better job at giving fair pay and good benefits compared to 5 percent saying this for men.
• 25 percent say women are better at mentoring young employees compared to 7 percent saying this about men.
These characteristics can build strong companies.
Promoting women to positions of leadership raises women to levels of equality. In business they will be able to fully contribute and be part of the decision making process to everyone’s advantage. Individual women will be able to achieve income parity and create fuller lives for their families. The will be able to use their talents to their fullest and assume responsibility in business with men. For the global economy, the World Economic Forum states, “it is pertinent to note that gender parity is also fundamental to whether and how economies and societies thrive.” When businesses equally place women in leadership positions, it means we benefit from the entire world’s talent.
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