Do you have policies in place to eliminate gender bias from hiring and advancement decisions? If not, you may be missing out on the skills, results, and unique perspective that women leaders bring to the table.
On paper, different organization leaders may list the same talents: strategic planning, risk management, and relationship building. However, each individual possesses a unique perspective shaped by their personal values and experiences. Therefore, the threats they perceive, the decisions they make on company priorities and opportunities, and the people and organizations they want to build relationships with may differ greatly.
When comparing women leaders vs. men, societal stereotypes and biases have been ingrained in our subconscious. Men in leadership positions are often described as assertive and decisive while women are more likely to be labeled aggressive and bossy. Women are judged to be less competent than men or mothers are less dedicated than fathers.
A Yale study led by Dr. Corinne Moss-Racusin found that John was more likely to get hired and paid more than Jennifer when their resumes were identical except for the candidates’ names. This reflects the bias of those who were involved in the hiring process — even when women were making the hiring decision!
Yet, when women are given the opportunity to lead, their performance often outpaces men and helps to redefine these stereotypes. A recent study of corporate filings for companies in which a woman succeeded a man as CEO revealed a positive change in the language used to describe women (assertive/decisive vs. aggressive/bossy). In addition, this shift benefitted women at all levels throughout the organization.
Coming out on top
According to HBR, women score higher than men in most leadership skills. Specifically, Pew Research shared that women are seen as more ethical, empathetic, and able to work out compromises. Women tend to be more compassionate and are socialized at a young age to cooperate and collaborate. Women tend to set more realistic targets and achieve better employee engagement. During crises like the pandemic, women leaders demonstrated their ability to manage conflict and increase cohesion.
In male-dominated industries, women understand what it feels like to be marginalized. As a result of this, they are more likely to bring a more inclusive mindset to their leadership role as well as empower and inspire other women to ascend into leadership roles. Studies have proven time and again that diverse organizations outperform their less-diverse counterparts. For example, Board Ready reported that companies with over 30% of board seats held by women outperformed their less gender-diverse counterparts in 11 out of the top 15 S&P 500 sectors. Similarly, a McKinsey report found that taking action to promote gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030 compared to a gender-regressive scenario.
Yet, women still lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to leadership positions. According to the Fortune 500, women secured 26.5% of board seats in 2020 and women of color held 5.7%. It was much worse for privately held companies.
So, what percentage of leaders in your organization are women? Women leaders bring many skills to the table and a unique perspective that can benefit your organization. It is important to not let gender bias impede hiring and advancement decisions.