4 Ways CEO's Can Champion Women Leaders. It's Easier Than You Think.
By Audrey McGuckin, CEO, WOTW -
For real change to occur in your organization, it’s time to think about the development of your women leaders as a key business performance lever.
For every 10% increase in gender diversity, it was reported that earnings before interest and taxes rose in public companies by a glaring 3.5% (McKinsey & Company). From this data, we uncover that women leaders have a key measurable impact on an organization’s bottom line. As the CEO, you have the power to leverage this in your business. Just don’t hand it off too quickly to someone deeper in the organization.
As my dear friend David Gonzlaes, President and CEO of David Gonzales and Associates and the former Global Chief Diversity Officer at Bristol Myers Squibb, recently shared in our International Women’s Day event, “Now is the time to acknowledge the fact that transformational leadership skills are mandatory and that as individuals YOU have the power to elevate women leaders in your organization. You have the power to take advantage of the new business opportunities that will come to you by doing so.”
In other words, bringing authentic leadership to your team requires you to OWN your gender diversity program as the CEO. To be the leader that champions women leaders.
Where do you start?
Here Are My Top 4 Ways to Champion Women Leaders:
1. CEO’s, Own Your Leadership Program. This is a reminder that there’s value sitting on the table right now. There is talent you are not tapping into. To move that needle you have to devote yourself to it. The pandemic has taken us back in time and according to the World Economic Forum, it’s going to take 108 years to close the gap with gender if we keep doing the same things. This watershed moment requires a new way.
So starting today, devote yourself to creating a program within your organization where you are committed to being the champion of women leaders. Make it a priority and a promise to your company. Start from the top down to institute lasting change. Just like sustainability or profitability you aren’t going to reach your goals if the CEO isn’t driving the initiative. Make it a priority to create gender equity.
2. Take A Hard Look At The Systems You Have In Place. The lack of gender equity is a systemic problem and it has to be looked at from a systems approach. We often hear ideas around gender equity being about fixing the women. You know, book clubs and cheese and crackers get togethers? Those don’t work.
We also see programs and processes that blame the men in the organization and ask them to change. We’re here to tell you that that doesn’t work either. That has just made men feel guilty and unempowered to help.
The real way? Create a program that champions your women leaders. Start by looking at the 14 corporate levers that are in place within your organization. From sponsorships, to mindsets and how you give feedback in the organization, these things impact how leaders are able to move up and feel empowered in your organization. If you adjust any of these levers it can have a HUGE impact on your results. We’ve proven this here at Women On Their Way. Fixing these levers is what empowers women leaders to reach their goals.
3. Create Space For Your Women Leaders To Grow. This starts by getting to know your women leaders. What do they need to feel supported? What are their dreams and aspirations? Where do they see their career going? You can do this through empathy interviews or you can spend time asking them questions. Get to know them and find out what they need.
Once you do that, create time and space for them to learn and grow. I will get to ideas on that next, but here I want to reiterate giving them SPACE. Make it a priority for them to educate themselves and grow their leadership skills. Provide time and space in their schedules to devote themselves to this. The pay off to your organization will be immense.
4. Enroll Your Women Leaders in a Program that Empowers Them and Educates Them. Our Women On Their Way Navigator program is a one-year, peer leveled program designed to accelerate professional growth and executive presence. Sponsoring your women leaders (one or many) through this program is an easy step to showing your support and investment in them as leaders.
Be the leader who guides them to greater self awareness and arms them with tools to create a career vision. Help them unearth limiting behaviors and mindsets so they can unlock their fullest potential. This space becomes a place where the women on your team acquire the knowledge and skills they need to help realize their potential, unearth limiting behaviors and mindsets, and build road maps for success. They can also learn how to navigate their career paths. Our program is a way to empower your women leaders and show them you care about their growth.
Championing women leaders and changing gender equity issues is hard work.
It's a process and a journey of discovery for leaders. It’s a place where as a leader you can be curious about what gender equity means to you. You can make a commitment to making this world a better place. Yes, gender equity can be a huge driver of business performance and innovation, but I would argue that without gender equity there is no sustainable future and there is no equal future. Together we can champion your women and bring them alongside leaders from all over the world.
To Learn More About How You Can Champion Women Leaders in Your Organization email [email protected]