Home-making is no longer the predominant occupation for women. Gone are the days of checkered aprons and ironing board resumes. Women now make up 46.8 percent of the workforce, according to the Current Population Survey from the The Bureau of Labor Statistics by the United States Department of Labor.
The fact that women make up nearly half of the workforce is a concrete improvement from the past. However, when it comes to leadership, women have margins to grow considering only 39.2 percent of women in the workforce are in management positions.
Many Americans believe that there should be more female leaders. In fact, 1,835 adults said that women are more compassionate and organized than men and equally as honest, intelligent, ambitious and decisive, according to 2015 Women and Leadership report by Pew Research Center.
There is no reason why women cannot be in more leadership positions, however, there are a number of factors affecting their opportunity in those roles. Here are four ways companies can help women become leaders:
Encourage being yourself.
Growing up, females are taught to be “ladies” and to always keep smiling even when the pressure is on. They are also taught that if their opinion is controversial, it is best to stay quiet. As a matter of fact, 86 percent of 3,014 U.S. women in the workforce said they recall being instructed to always be ‘nice’ to others growing up, while only 34 percent were taught to share their point of view, according to a 2016 KPGM Women’s Leadership Study.
It is common for women to have trouble speaking their minds in the workplace because if their opinions are too direct they are more likely to be considered “impolite.” Men, however, when presenting the same ideas, are markedly assertive leaders. Organizations that want to end this double standard need to expose female opinions more and close the gap on thought leadership.
Establish female lead forums and feedback surveys, and make it a point to ask female employees what they think about trending business issues. Actively encouraging women to speak their minds will make them more likely to do so openly in the future, expanding the breadth of company leadership and knowledge.
It’s no secret -- women are far more likely to admit to confidence issues when it comes to being a leader in the workplace. Although 64 percent of women aspire to be a leader of a company in the future, 56 percent of women are hesitant to take on these leadership roles according the same KPGM study. Why is that?
Well, the KPGM study also found that 53 percent of women in the workforce indicate receiving praise from colleagues, leaders and mentors influence their perception of themselves in the workplace. When it comes to raising a women’s confidence, they just need proper encouragement.
When a female team member does something great, don’t let it go unnoticed. Tell her, “Good job!” and go the extra mile by rewarding her with more responsibilities, if she’s expressed interest in advancing her position. For instance, if she did well with taking the lead on a project, give her the lead on a bigger project. Before you know it, she will be leading with more confidence.
Train women to be leaders.
Although 75 percent of women in the KPGM study report wishing they had more opportunities to learn how to lead when growing up, it is not too late to provide those opportunities moving forward. Employers can do this by training women in the workforce with online tools that work around a busy woman’s schedule. Hold workshops and send them to conferences to develop their leadership skills. Don’t hold anything back.
With the proper training, women will perform well and become more confident in their skills. In fact, seventy-one percent of working women said their performance influences their perception of themselves in the workplace. Opportunities to hone their skills is an essential rung in the corporate ladder. If there is more leadership training available to them, there will be more female leaders. [Click to Tweet]
Encourage women to network with other women.
Women are motivated by female empowerment. In fact, 82 percent of working women believe access to -- and networking with -- female leaders will help them advance in their career, according to the KPGM study.
When possible, employers should have female leaders speak to the company and provide opportunity for discussion after. That way, women can ask questions specific to what they need to improve their leadership knowledge and skills. This also allows them to network with fellow aspiring female leaders.
Having these types of events will give women in the workforce the resources they need to grow their skills and stay motivated to become leaders in their industry. After all, 86 percent of women who responded to the KPGM study said that when they see more women in leadership, they are inspired to reach farther. It is a ripple effect -- the more businesses do to shape women into leaders, the more females leaders will be the future.
What are other ways companies can mold female employees into leaders?