The Undeniable Impact of Women in Senior Leadership Roles and Strategies for Retention-image

The Undeniable Impact of Women in Senior Leadership Roles and Strategies for Retention

In this article, we’ll explain why women are so integral to senior leadership roles for the effective operation of organisations, both internally and externally. As well as lay out some effective approaches companies ought to adopt to ensure senior female retention.  

Quick facts:

  • Women in senior leaderships positions can have a considerable positive impacts on all organisational levels.
  • Positives span overall revenue performance, employee satisfaction, engagement and reduced risk taking.
  • Effective gender parity strategies need to include a multi-factor approach, often with emphasis on retention as well as upward mobility for women.

Current workplace gender imbalance

The benefits of gender equity within the workplace, particularly for top-down initiatives, are well known, well documented and certainly well reported. 

But even in the face of such benefits, gender imbalance, especially across senior leadership and boards, overwhelmingly persists. Globally, male employees occupy an incredible 65-95% of senior roles. 

Any progressive employer should not only be striving for gender balance within the workplace but actively ensuring they have an effective gender parity strategy in place to plug current organisational gaps.

Not only should strategies focus on upward mobility for women but also on retention for female leaders. Effective strategies often require nuanced approaches that span employee benefits, competency-based hiring and pay and the need for a cultural shift in often deep-rooted, systemic biases. 

The impact of women in leadership

Here are some of the top line and most well documented positive impacts that gender equity and increased numbers of women within senior leadership teams can offer organisations.

Improved organisational performance 

Countless studies have shown a clear and definite correlation between women in senior leadership and improved company performance. This not only applies to improved financial performance but extends granularly into individual employee performance. 

Studies have also shown that an increased number of women on board teams can de-risk company performance, reducing the incidence of lawsuits, corporate crimes and tarnished organisational reputations. 

Increased innovation

In addition to performance, organisations with a higher percentage of women in senior leadership have been found to both invest more in innovation and be more innovative overall. 

This has been attributed to increased diversity, viewpoints and creative approaches to decision making apparent within gender-equitable senior leadership teams. 

Enhanced employee engagement 

Studies have also found that an increased number of women in senior leadership improves overall employee engagement and retention—regardless of gender or identity. 

Employees from companies with higher proportions of women are more likely to report overall levels of job satisfaction and positive organisational culture. 

Women are more likely to embody empathy and prioritise communication within their leadership style, often driving a more positive and meaningful workplace culture.  

Strategies for retention

Effective retention strategies are multi-faceted and can include a number of the following iniatives alongside organisational policy change.

Address gender pay gaps

Despite women in SLT performing, often better than their male counterparts and contributing to improved company performance, they still earn significantly less than men. 

Ensuring transparency across pay structures is essential for acquiring top talent and retaining the best female employees. Fair compensation reflective of competency, irrespective of gender, combined with regular reviews and a clear commitment to closing any outstanding pay gaps is critical. 

Offer fertility and reproductive health benefits

Over 1 million women have left the workplace due to menopausal symptoms and a further 1 in 5 employees going through fertility treatment left their jobs due to insufficient support within the last 5 years alone.

Offering fertility and reproductive health benefits has been found to significantly improve retention and employee engagement. These benefits can particularly help female employees, both through challenging life events, like menopause and fertility struggles—but also via mitigating potential future health issues and concerns. Companies need to remember that women’s hormones impact them for nearly their entire lifespan and the workplace needs to cater for these changes. 

Educate employees on second-generation gender bias

Harvard Business Review recently reported that an integral part of upward organisational mobilisation for women is the removal of second-generation bias. This is often deeply rooted in organisational practices, creating ‘invisible’ barriers for women. 

Bias can lead not only to a reduced number of women in SLT but also implicitly hostile working environments for them when they get there. Making employees aware of bias can radically alter attitudes and foster possibilities for meaningful change. 

The future of your senior teams 

Forbes recently reported on studies highlighting that to see the benefits of an increased number of female leaders, a critical mass of a 30% female team is needed. Forbes similarly reported the need for a Reproductive Revolution in the workplace. This maps onto things like company performance, competency based pay and employee engagement. 

The need for women within leadership is, evidently, more crucial than ever. The Economist and McKinsey Global Institute estimate that if global workplace gender gaps were bridged the global economy would surge by 26%.

Any successful 21st century business should adopt a rigorous gender parity strategy focusing not only on upward mobilisation but also retention. Contact the Hertility team to learn how we can support you with your journey to becoming a Reproductively Responsible™ employer.



Posts that Hertility has created for the Hertility Blog.

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