Professional development creates a leadership pipeline for women
If your business wants to reap the benefits of more women in leadership roles, you have to help them get there.
Women are lagging behind men in leadership roles across many industries. For example:
- In the overall S&P 500 labor force, women make up just 25% of executives and senior-level managers, despite being 44% of the workforce.
- In the financial services industry, they are 54% of the workforce but just 29% of senior management and 2% of CEOs.
- In 2016, 43% of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no women in executive roles at all.
However, women in leadership roles is a predictor of economic success for businesses. When there is gender diversity in the executive team, businesses are 21% more likely to have above average financial performance.
Creating women business leaders should be a priority for your business.
One way to create more women leaders is to focus company time and resources on professional development for women in your business.
Here are some tips on how you can bolster professional development for women and build women business leaders in your organization.
Understand the importance of professional development
If you are going to be successful in helping more women reach leadership roles, you need buy in from the top. This means showing the importance of professional development for female employees and the results that can come from investing in your current talent.
Even if you’re the decision-maker, knowing the impact of professional development is the first step to building your pipeline for more female leaders.
87% of millennial workers surveyed by Gallup say that “professional or career growth and development opportunities” are important to them, and 69% of non-millennial respondents agreed.
If workers don’t have the opportunity to grow and develop at your business, they’ll probably seek it at another organization. 73% of workers surveyed by the Corporate Executive Board Company cited a lack of future career opportunities or development opportunities as one of their top reasons for leaving.
If you can’t retain workers, you can never grow leadership from within, and that includes both men and women employees.
Amplify women’s voices
Tammy Heermann, a leadership development expert, has written that “increasing the number of women who move into more senior roles is more of an organizational culture challenge, than it is a training or recruitment challenge.”
This culture problem is reflected in organizations that don’t offer women a chance to make their voices heard. If you aren’t giving women the chance to try their hand at leadership in the real world, how can they truly develop their skills?
You can change this culture issue by empowering women employees to speak up and help make decisions. Encouraging, praising and rewarding employees that show this kind of behavior will start the process of amplifying women’s voices in your business.
Budget for continuing education
If you don’t provide resources for training and development, you can’t reap the benefits. Investing in continuing education for your employees is necessary.
At the Nashville Chamber, employees are encouraged to learn and develop new skills with a yearly budget for continuing education, as well as in-house training. Leadership at our organization understands the importance of investing in current talent to retain and develop more leaders.
Mentors are incredibly important as role models and templates for women to grow into leaders. Building a network of support for your female employees can go a long way to helping them realize their growth and development potential.
However, mentor relationships are most successful when mentors are mentees have a workplace relationship, and the mentor actively sponsors their protégé. Since there’s a gap for women in leadership roles and men often sponsor and mentor employees that look like them, there’s also a gap in sponsorship for women in the workplace.
If you’re in a leadership role, you can help grow more women into management roles in your business by connecting with female employees, regardless of your own gender.
Read more about why you should be hiring women and learn some tips to retain female employees in these previous posts.