We like to talk about the success of women in business, but how involved with business are women really? Time Magazine reports in the article “Confidence Woman” from March of 2013 that only 17 heads of state out of 195 are female. In fact, women only hold about 20% of parliament seats globally.
What is most ironic about these statistics is the value of women in business. An analysis performed by Dow Jones in September of 2012 concluded that by industry, the median proportion of female executives at successful companies was higher than that of unsuccessful companies. Overall, there were 7.1% female executives at successful companies to 3.1% at unsuccessful companies. One might question what exactly women have to offer that makes them unique to business success and why women aren’t holding more executive positions.
Below are some reasons women are important to business success:
What Women Bring to Business:
- A solid education
In 2010, 58% of all undergraduate degrees in the United States were given to women, according to a McKinsey&Company report. However, only 50% of college educated workers were female.
- Leadership Qualities
The McKinsey report found that executives pointed to intellectual stimulation, inspiration, participatory decision-making, and setting expectations as well as rewards as top needed skills for leadership. Interestingly these skills we more commonly found among women.
- More Money
That’s right; in 2011 Catalyst revealed findings that organizations with more females had better financial success.
- Facilitating higher Organizational Health
The McKinsey Organizational Health Index (OHI) found that companies with three or more women in top positions (executive committee and higher) scored higher than their peers.
Women tend to be known for living with purpose which facilities determination and direction in a business setting. Ros Ficklets of Walmart sums it up well “I believe one of the key factors in the success of women business owners today is having a deep desire to live with purpose… by pursuing their dreams, creating and building, providing for their family, giving back to the community and hopefully inspiring others.”
In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg has almost an all or nothing attitude regarding business women stating that “we need more portrayals of women as competent professionals and happy mothers…” suggesting that all women have to fall in to either of those categories or worst that women’s self-concept needs to rely on “portrayals” rather than their own compass. A recent NPR article also questioned whether all women should take the advice of Facebook COO Sandberg in their article. At Center for Work Life we empower women to be “picky choosers”. It is empowering for all human beings to have the freedom to choose, whether in their capacity to pursue their career or other goals within their lives. The reality is that when you choose, you are accountable and motivated. In fact, this is how we coach our wonderful women toward true work-life balance as opposed to what majority of people consider which is merely a time dependent measure. If we have a force put in place where women are expected to be mothers and executives, than that is no different than going back 50 years in history when women were expected to be homemakers and mothers. Choices come from within and for society to be successful individuals have to practice their individuality.
The reality is that it takes both genders to make the business world an innovative and rich landscape of experiences and perspectives. However, being that women are certainly obtaining more degrees and have lower turnover in organizations, they are certainly the inevitable in up and coming organizations. Therefore, companies are well advised to strive to create more “women- friendly” work cultures, including competitive compensation, but women are also well advised to pursue those goals more realistically and confidently.