Take Down the Wall – Ending Gender Inequality at the Top of Organizations

A big divide between the sexes in the corporate world is evident at senior leadership levels where men are in the overwhelming majority.

Despite the advent of feminism, the fact that there are a handful of women CEO’s in large corporations, and the huge population of highly competent lower-level women executives in every industry, the fact is that women leaders still

Run into an invisible wall that, consciously, unconsciously, and due to intentional ignorance, keeps them from consistently rising to top leadership positions.

How can organizations take down that wall of inequality?

Here are three steps that organizations can take to ensure that woman reach senior levels of leadership.

  1. Get out of denial that there is a problem.

Despite some progress in promoting women in some sectors and the awareness of the problem on the part of certain male leaders, the C-Suite and corporate boards still are mostly an all male club.

When the statistics come in many organizations like Google were shocked to see how women trail in promotion to higher levels of leadership (as well as just working in the IT Industry).

However it is one thing to be shocked by the numbers but there needs to be intensified action in rectifying the problem. And a factor that can spur us on in this effort to end bias is our attempt to build more effective teams.

  1. Examine what makes for effective teams.

The data are in. Teams with more women members are more effective. In an article in the NY Times Jan 15th 2015 Why Some Teams are Smarter than Others” authors Anita Woolley, Thomas Malone, and Christopher Chabris cite studies that indicate that having more women on a team makes it more effective. This was partly due to a second success factor for an effective team, emotional intelligence. The latter is generally found at a higher level in women.

Could the above factor spur on the needed changes by organizations when they

  1. Establish a percentage of qualified women who will be promoted to such positions in a certain time frame?

Some corporations set goals that by a certain date a higher percentage of qualified women will be represented in their senior leadership. This has been a very effective strategy for diversity balance.

Now is the time for more organizations to follow suit and establish a quota system for qualified women.

Other strategies for dismantling the wall of gender bias like court cases and newspaper reports raise the awareness of the problem but generally lead to bad feelings and resistance from corporate leadership.

By just starting with the above three actions a new day could be dawning for women in leadership.

 Burning Questions

When will we see gender equality on your senior leadership team?

What are you doing (or have done) to make this so?  

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About cedricj

I am a licensed psychologist and management consultant and have always been intrigued by how leaders can inspire people in their organizations. The bottom line is that people are not always motivated by material rewards, the use of the carrot or the stick, fear and intimidation,and command and control, Five human needs inspire and drive us. Kristine S MacKain, Ph.D and myself describe these inspirational forces in our book "What Inspirational Leaders Do" (Kindle 2008)
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