What we need to do to get more women in leadership

The occasions of 2020 threat reversing the progress we have made in direction of gender disparity in firm leadership. As many as two million women in the U.S. have both left or thought of leaving the workforce due to caregiving burdens and lack of labor flexibility, in accordance to a McKinsey study on women in the workplace.

As a lady who has labored her method up the company ladder, this statistic is alarming to me. If we are confronted with the potential for fewer women to transfer into leadership positions due to the pressures of the pandemic, present leaders should reframe their mindsets to handle this case and finally proceed to shut the gender hole in the C-suite.

Quotas gained’t remedy gender disparity

We need more women in govt positions, however I’m additionally a agency believer in solely giving folks alternatives they deserve. The secret is giving those that take the initiative to step up—no matter their gender or background—the chance to show themselves. In the event that they work laborious and show their worth, they deserve the chance. That is true of my very own journey to CFO of LogicSource.

Once I began as controller, the corporate had just lately parted methods with its CFO. I noticed that as a chance to step up and create alternatives to show my worth. I led debt and state financial offers, guided the corporate by a sale, applied totally new monetary techniques inside our enterprise, and managed our transition to a brand new board of administrators, all earlier than I turned 35. 

I by no means felt like I had to work more durable or show myself just because I’m a lady. I reached this degree as a result of I inspired my colleagues to reframe their perceptions of the traits that make an incredible chief. I labored with them to create an surroundings the place I might obtain the aims I set for myself to progress my profession, in addition to being current for my two daughters at residence.

As manufacturers have prioritized gender range, we’ve fallen into the sample of range for range’s sake. Now, many companies set gender quotas and have conversations that contain the phrase “we need to rent a lady in this position” all too usually. As leaders reframe how they consider range, the strategy shouldn’t simply be about setting a purpose. It must be about discovering new methods to let everybody shine in their very own method.

Eliminating the unconscious “proper right here” bias

The pandemic has basically modified the way in which that organizations take into consideration office flexibility. Earlier than March 2020, many companies struggled to see the advantages of flexibility in working hours and site. That made it very troublesome for many who wanted flexibility to succeed. And, sadly, the social pressures of womanhood usually nonetheless imply we’re those who need flexibility probably the most.

A lady might have confronted profession headwinds if she left the workplace at 4 p.m. for daycare pickup when male counterparts might keep on the workplace till 6 p.m.—even when, when returning residence, she was getting again on-line and finishing simply as a lot work as she would have if she’d stayed in the workplace till 6 p.m. (or longer). This creates an unconscious mark in opposition to her “dedication” due to not bodily being in the workplace—the unconscious “proper right here” bias.

After all, I need to name out that this subject isn’t unique to women however, as I beforehand talked about, we intrinsically bear these tasks most frequently. Nonetheless, I consider the rise in distant work has created a broader acceptance of versatile schedules, eradicating a few of the boundaries women face when wanting to advance their careers on the identical tempo as their male counterparts. If mindsets round office flexibility proceed to change, we ought to see more and more that women have the identical alternatives to advance their careers as their male counterparts.

Leveraging feminine leadership traits for development

Women are generally considered as empathetic and reliable leaders. Sadly, these traits haven’t historically been considered as high traits for the C-suite.

But our potential to apply the talents we’ve honed as daughters, wives, and moms—like empathy and communication—offers us a singular benefit to strategy the C-suite from a distinct perspective. I’ve seen this firsthand when performing because the facilitator between different executives attempting to remedy an issue or because the glue that held our staff collectively throughout a transitional interval in our enterprise.

We should always worth what women can naturally convey to the leadership desk. In accordance to a recent article in Harvard Business Review, “corporations with more women in senior positions are more worthwhile, more socially accountable, and supply safer, higher-quality buyer experiences—amongst many different advantages.” 

It’s time enterprise leaders reframe what profitable leadership appears like by recognizing these attributes, in addition to creating an surroundings the place folks can step up and show their value and be rewarded for it equally no matter gender or background. 

It’s my hope that, as we emerge from the pandemic, we’ll quickly see all genders and backgrounds on an equal taking part in subject primarily based on a brand new definition of leadership attributes and the alternatives we give colleagues to showcase them. Solely then will we begin to sustainably shut gender disparity in the C-suite.


Niki Heim joined LogicSource in July 2014 and holds the position of chief monetary officer.