While female leaders like Marissa Meyer, Virginia Rometty, Sheryl Sandberg and Meg Whitman, among others have been an inspiration to the next generation of budding female entrepreneurs, women are still under-represented in senior leadership positions in the corporate world, says a new study. In contrast, it shows women are seeing such success in their own companies, but not in established businesses. From the above observation the study came to the conclusion that the corporate environment is the principal barrier to women fulfilling their ambition to lead.
The study by global career consultants Right Management reveals that even though women leaders perform better in the corporate world, inflexible hierarchies become the biggest barriers to female progress into senior, executive roles. Therefore, despite making up more than half of full-time university undergraduates and almost half of the workforce, women, even in sectors such as technology, which comprise only around one third of managers, directors and senior officials.
However, the advancement of females into positions of power makes business sense, as companies with female directors perform better on share price, show a higher return on equity, have higher income growth, and tend to have less debt and higher valuations.
While women CEOs in start-ups are thriving and that’s good news for potential women executives and senior leaders, the report expresses a need for women in senior management roles to become hands-on “real models” – rather than role models – by mentoring ambitious female workers and being honest about how their successes can be understood and replicated.
Right Management managing director Ian Symes explained the research wanted to unearth how organizations can better accommodate the creative and entrepreneurial zeal of women leaders, and spoke at length with more than 35 women in senior roles, in both established organisations and women-owned businesses. “We found it’s time that established organizations looked to their women-owned counterparts to understand where they could, and should, be doing things better. If they don’t, then today’s colleagues could all-too easily become tomorrow’s competitors as unsatisfied women leave to start and grow new businesses.”
Symes stated in his report, it is high time for the organizational environment in corporations to change. “Since the industrial revolution, businesses have been built with men in mind, and the changes that have occurred have been led by men. With that in mind, we shouldn’t be surprised that women often find it difficult to fulfil their potential within these structures and so forge a path of their own. We should also recognize that women may look at established organizations and not be attracted to the idea of leading them.”
The report also urges senior leaders to use technology in ways that enable women’s ideas to be heard, create more part-time leadership roles and implement processes to reward collaborative working.