In this new column, Into the Future, we ask entrepreneurs, business people and thought leaders to share their big-picture visions for the coming world. Gemma Munro, CEO of Inkling Women, wants to see progress on the push for gender diversity.
Just for a moment, imagine a world where 50 per cent of leadership roles worldwide were held by women.
A surfeit of research suggests that gender-equal leadership would result in significantly greater collaboration, compassion, innovation, performance and sustainability. There would be more listening and less posturing. More participation and less hierarchy. Better long-term decision-making, reduced turnover and far greater employee engagement.
We know that followers want more female leaders – or, at the very least, leaders who bring a more feminine approach to their leadership style. In a study of 64,000 people in 13 countries, two thirds of respondents suggested that the world would be a better place if men were more like women. The research also showed that leadership characteristics rated as feminine were significantly more desired than a more traditionally masculine leadership style.
Within organisations, the business case for female representation in senior leadership is compelling. Yet business is making very little inroads in achieving gender diversity at leadership level. Metrics have barely shifted in the last 10 years, despite $10 billion annually spent on diversity training worldwide. The ASX200 has only seen a 0.6% increase in female executives in the last 10 years. Women simply aren’t reaching the highest levels in large enough numbers for business to unlock the significant benefits of diversity.
“Research suggests that gender-equal leadership would result in significantly greater collaboration, compassion, innovation, performance and sustainability.”
As the CEO of a business whose mission is to ensure that 50% of leadership roles worldwide are held by women, I have a large stake in ensuring female leaders thrive. I also have a clear understanding of what works – and the mistakes organisations are making in the bid to ensure gender diversity in the workplace.
There must be a concerted effort to identify female talent – and then to give women the tools to succeed in the working environment, and ultimately to shape it from the top down.
Outside of work, we will not have true equality in the workplace until women and men share childcare and housework equally. In Australia women do 50% more housework and 50% more childcare than men. And here’s the surprise: these figures actually rise when women are in full-time work. It is impossible to ask women to fulfil their full potential at work if they are taking on far more than their fair share of responsibility at home.
“I have a large stake in ensuring female leaders thrive. I also have a clear understanding of what works – and the mistakes organisations are making in the bid to ensure gender diversity in the workplace.”
Business is at the heart of the push towards gender diversity. By developing high potential women, and providing policies that enable men to take an equal amount of parental and care leave, organisations are paving the way for a better future – a world where 50% of the most important decisions for the planet are made by women.