Balanced Boards

18 February 2021

Forging inclusive work cultures where women's careers thrive and achievements are celebrated

"We need more women in leadership"

The world needs more women leaders – whether that is leading companies or running countries. Why? Because gender equal leadership results in a more inclusive and effective society.

Global talent shortages are at a record high (almost double that of a decade ago) so surely it is critical to harness all potential talent. Did you know that although women enter the workforce in relatively equal numbers as men, but the rise to the top can be slower and more challenging for them?

At Friisberg we constantly challenge the status quo and actively seek to create truly inclusive and supportive environments where women can excel and constantly achieve their full potential.

There are many ways companies themselves can aim to attract and retain more women leaders:

Break the male line of succession

A lack of women leaders at the top cannot always be attributed to a lack of female talent. Many women feel blocked from senior ranks due to all-male lines of succession. Breaking this line of succession requires reversing stereotypes. Companies must clearly articulate and make transparent the specific skills and experiences needed for movement into leadership levels and should identify suitable mechanisms for helping women build exposure to the scenarios they need in order to progress.

Offer workplace benefits beyond pay

For companies to attract women into leadership roles, they need to offer more than just good pay, such as employee training and development opportunities, good work/life balance, and flexibility. Many women still remain the primary caregivers outside of working hours, so it is important that companies understand and respect the wide demands often placed on working women.

Look for employees who are willing to adapt

The world of work is changing thanks to the increasing influence of digital technology and this can mean breadth of skills and not always depth. Yet, many companies still require candidates to have many solid years of experience behind them, something that greatly favours men who have not had career breaks. Some of the biggest barrier to women's progress is an entrenched male culture that is based on merits created by men, shaped by presenteeism and defined largely by male standards.

At Friisberg, we always remove bias and barriers from interviews and ensure our assessment criteria are designed with all candidates in mind.

Encourage leaders to take responsibility for their actions

All leaders have the influence to instigate change, so it is important that the words, actions and decisions of leaders are fair and inclusive in promoting and encouraging women.

Leaders should ensure there are adequate policies and strategies in place to create inclusive workplace cultures where people's differences are valued. Such workplaces ensure everyone - regardless of background or identity - is respected, their voices heard and their actions valued.

Lorri Lowe
Partner UK


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