In a study conducted in 2019, researchers found that more women now hold higher positions in various organizations across the USA. According to the same survey, each year, more female executives are given C-suite jobs, a trend that is expected to continue in the future.
But according to the same study, females are still underrepresented at various levels. As such, organizations still have a long way to go in pushing diversity and inclusion for career women in the workplace.
As a business owner or manager, there are several ways you can develop, empower, and support your female workers to become excellent leaders. You can do so by following these tips:
1. Implement leadership and mentoring programs
All budding leaders need some extra help in discovering their potential and unlocking and honing all essential leadership skills. The right mentoring and leadership training programs can help your female employees with these.
Create a mentorship program in your organization involving supervisors and managers. Make sure the mentors understand the importance of this system and how they can help the women in your organization.
Additionally, encourage the women to sign up for the program. Explain the benefits they will gain by joining.
Consider investing in leadership training programs geared towards women as well. Established learning institutes can create customized courses that will help develop your potential female leaders.
From lectures to one-on-one coaching and workshops, these programs will put your potential leaders in excellent hands when you hire qualified trainers to create and implement a leadership program for your female executives.
Creating and implementing mentorship and leadership training programs are the most tangible and noticeable ways you show you support women leaders. As such, they are the best first steps to take in your organization.
2. Promote a gender-inclusive work culture
You won’t be able to find and develop women leaders if you don’t have enough female workers.
Another important initial step you have to take, therefore, is to create more opportunities in a more gender-inclusive workplace.
Start by hiring more females in your company. Ensure there is a healthy balance for all genders in your workplace.
Next, offer all your employees a chance to be promoted to a position they are qualified for.
Lastly, create policies that promote gender equality in your company. Offer compensation packages based on the current market rate instead of the candidates’ employment histories. Do the same for all the benefits you provide.
3. Give women special projects or assignments
Even if female executives are qualified and skilled, most of them still never get the chance to get the same type of assignments that men receive.
Most of the time, these assignments are important and valuable ones — the type that allows employees to show and stretch their skills and get them noticed by the people responsible for promoting from within.
Additionally, women are also less likely to be given leadership tasks or positions, such as managing a project or presenting to a client. These are opportunities that can help them prepare and become great leaders.
To give your women employees the same opportunity, encourage your managers to provide them these assignments. Work with them to identify the women who have the skills and career goals that make them capable of handling upcoming projects.
Have them create a list of all future projects and instruct them to divide the jobs equally among the male and female executives. By doing so, you ensure that you are creating more equitable development opportunities for your most talented employees.
4. Encourage women to take advantage of available learning opportunities
Potential leaders can always benefit from taking some time off to engage in professional development. As such, support workers who want to invest or participate in learning opportunities.
Encourage your employees to take advantage of the learning opportunities they are interested in. Additionally, provide the resources they need, which include allowing them to take a day off to attend a seminar or conference and even paying for the fees.
Additionally, encourage your employees to take advantage of any social learning opportunities you have in your organization. Aside from your mentorship and leadership programs, urge them to join your in-house upskilling training sessions and other workshops.
5. Invest in further formal education
Conferences, seminars, and workshops are excellent for providing potential leaders additional skills and expertise. However, you can help prepare your female executives for leadership roles and support their growth by supporting their formal education.
One way of doing this is awarding scholarships to employees moving up the career ladder. If you have the resources, offer to pay for their MBA or any master’s degree they want to complete.
If your budget can’t cover the course fees, consider offering loans to employees interested in going back to college. However, make sure the terms are attractive, reasonable, and fair and won’t put your potential leaders at a disadvantage.
6. Encourage your women leaders to speak up
Another crucial element of promoting diversity and inclusion in your organization and supporting women in leadership positions is encouraging them to voice their opinions and suggestions.
Lack of confidence and fear of being honest are the two biggest obstacles that can prevent women from taking on leadership roles and succeeding in such positions.
You can help them overcome these hurdles by encouraging them to speak up during meetings and other opportunities where their input would be valuable.
If your female executives seem to be lacking in confidence, consider investing in training programs that will help them build their self-esteem. Helping them improve their communication skills will also enable them to express themselves effectively.
Working with consultants from a talent management consultancy in Dubai and your HR team can help you find out which skills your potential leaders need to develop to become more confident in expressing themselves.
7. Give new leaders room for discovery
Both male and female executives do not become perfect leaders overnight. They need some time to understand their personal leadership style. This is something that they have to do to be sure they won’t fail in their new role.
Because of this, you have to give them time to learn and adjust to their new roles. Accept that they will make some mistakes along the way and help them improve to become better leaders.
More importantly, do not assume that revenues will immediately increase and business operations will improve the second you promote a woman. Give the entire process some time and always provide support when your new leaders need them.
Having more women leaders allows your business to reap more benefits. To ensure your organization always has access to talented individuals that enhance diversity in the workplace, follow these tips for developing your female employees.
About the Author
Leila Rezaiguia is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Kompass Consultancy, an innovative global talent management consultancy headquartered in Dubai and with offices in Abu Dhabi and Sydney, that specialises in enabling individuals, organisations and educational institutions to achieve performance excellence and career success. Leila is a multi-lingual (English, Arabic, and French) PCC Coach, Mentor Coach, Trainer, Facilitator, and Business Mentor who is passionate about coaching, women in leadership, talent management and organisational development.
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