Through the decades there have been countless articles and discussions touting the benefits that more women leaders can bring to the table in the world of business. There are also lots of studies confirming these benefits.
One such study was conducted back in 2016 by the Peterson Institute for International Economics and accounting firm EY. The study, “Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey” looked at 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries and found a correlation between having women in leadership roles and profitability.
So why aren’t there more women leaders out there, especially at larger companies? Last year, there were 32 female-led Fortune 500 companies. In 2018, with the announced departure just last week of PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi, there are now a mere 24 Fortune 500s led by women. Other female CEOs who have stepped down over the past year include those at Yahoo, Mondelez and Hewlett Packard.
So what’s the secret to creating more gender diversity in leadership positions? Harvard Business Review partnered last year with researchers to interview 57 female CEOs from Fortune 1000 companies and other companies of similar size. Based on the findings of their study, HBR identified these 5 steps to building a successful pipeline of female executives:
#1 – Find Potential Leaders Early
Organizations can create strong talent early on by making sure that women in their workforce have access to leadership opportunities. High-potential development programs that teach women how to lead and run a business can improve the chances that they will rise to the top.
#2 – Encourage Women to Consider the CEO Role
According to HBR, two-thirds of the study participants never thought of becoming a CEO – until someone else suggested it. Having sponsors and mentors who can help recognize promising talent and encourage them to consider executive positions will put more women on the path to leadership.
#3 – Build Support Networks
Companies that establish a strong support network for women who are in senior-level positions helps increase the possibility that those women will move on to higher leadership roles. Some of the study participants said that the absence of a strong support system hinders career development.
#4 – Communicate Your Organization’s Impact
Many of the CEOs who were interviewed said they pursued roles that went beyond offering just business value; they also wanted roles that would have a positive impact on their communities. To attract more female leaders, employers should stress that their leadership positions offer the chance to make a meaningful contribution.
#5 – Support Female Execs During a Crisis
Women are more likely to gain a leadership role when there is a crisis within an organization. There’s even a term for this – the glass cliff. It can be a blessing, or a curse. Often times, because the job is passed to them during a time of crisis, there’s greater chance for failure. One example of this was the hiring of Marissa Meyer as CEO of Yahoo in 2012. Her time at the top was short-lived. So one step for fixing this, according to HBR, is to offer opportunities for women to recover if a high-risk situation fails.
As a Women Owned Small/Minority Business Enterprise, A.R. Mazzotta naturally embraces more opportunities for women to take on leadership roles, especially here in our state of Connecticut. Our company was founded nearly 50 years ago by Arlene R. Mazzotta and is run today by CEO and President Laura Dale Pedersen. We’re proud to have many amazing women in roles at all levels throughout our company. And by following many of the steps discussed above, we’re well-positioned to have continued strong female leaders at A.R. Mazzotta for another 50 years.