Women leaders across generations and the globe are collaborating to find new solutions to the world’s biggest problems. They are leading all walks of life – be it political, Institutions like IMF, Banks, Army, the Navy, Air Force, C-Suite, Managing large Businesses, MSME Entrepreneurs, the Social sector and various other local and global forums where it was not usual for women to represent. The inclusion of women as an equal leader has sometimes been due to reservation to increase gender representation and sometimes due to their capability, potential and growing needs of the society for higher growth.
We are witnessing exemplary female leaders emerging from across the generations to cross-weave their knowledge and drive for change as under –
- US elections have been an eye-opener to the world with almost 119 women in the U.S. House of Representatives making women 27.4% of the total of U.S. Representatives. The world is yet to witness the first female President of The United States of America.
- India has steadily increased women representation in the Lok Sabha to 14%. The total of Female members are about 10% of the total ministerial strength and there is tremendous scope to increase the representation.
- 19 countries have reached or surpassed 40 per cent of women in Parliament
- Most of the upliftment and development schemes like water, sanitation, hygiene, education, climate change etc as led by Women have shown higher effectiveness and outreach globally
- Handling Pandemic by the global women leaders of New Zealand, Taiwan, Finland, Germany has been an applaud to ably contain the virus spread and death cover
Women leaders have time and again proven to be the most important pillar of growth for a family, society, community, country, continent and world. Each and every woman I am fortunate to meet has been a leader in one or the other walk of life possessing very unique and distinctive qualities as under –
- Value balance in work-life
- Great listeners and empathetic leaders
- Building and nurturing teams
- Good as multi-taskers
- Highly resilient, emotionally intelligent
- Usually, they lead by example
- Highly flexible minded with the ability to defy odds and make jobs effortless
- Taking initiative
- Practising self-development
- Striving for results
- Displaying high integrity and honesty
Even though Women as leaders possess a higher skill set required to handle roles at all levels, there have been cultural biases and stereotypes questioning their ability, capability, competence and potential. Many research studies have shown that there has been unconscious bias in hiring, promotion, increments etc which also contribute to a lower number of women in leadership roles. Though in today’s time, 44% of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, almost double in 5 years however these numbers need to surge as there are only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women. In technological areas like cloud computing, Engineering, Data, AI there are just 15% – 20% women professionals. To increase women participation in new and dynamic sectors like IT, there is a need to be open-minded enough to bring in female leaders from other industries, who might not have a tech background but can learn quickly. There is a need to offer them desired support and enabling environment to become significant contributors in these hardcore technical and male-dominated areas.
As per Research data, Companies promoting inclusive leadership are six times more innovative, growth mindset, demonstrating trust, collaboration, building strong relations than other companies. Even though there are numerous competitive advantages for companies building gender diversity across levels, however, there is a need to take more initiatives like creating larger opportunities starting from the top, conducive work atmosphere, supporting them in their personal and professional journey especially at different stages of their lives, sponsoring at least a woman especially when the sponsor has the power and will use it for her rather they being over-mentored and under-sponsored.
Women on the other hand have to believe in themselves, their humility should not be an obstacle to their demanding larger roles, being ambitious to aspire for senior level roles. In fact, a typical combination of a French and Indian woman and most important is being humble yet assertive and not perceived as aggressive. Also, the real problem is not the lack of capability of women leaders to step up but a dearth of opportunity, stereotyping women leading to them being trapped in a vicious cycle.
I have experienced my Mom as my role model to break the barriers of age and pursue her Naturopathy course as her second career 60 years ago. Although she needed to sacrifice her Banking career to take care of a joint family; even though she had the option to lock away her dreams; the passion of chasing her goals didn’t vanish, they only grew over time. Her dedication, determination, attitude and fearless expression to overcome any difficulty thrown at her inspired me and gave me the courage to hold my head high and fight back too. It gave me a chance to speak to my inner self and reflect on who and what I want to do and become. Isn’t it a true display of exemplary leadership? working as an Ayurveda practitioner is her pride.
While working in India and Europe, I got an opportunity to meet great women leaders doing phenomenal work in Education, International networking forums for women, supporting the needs of Special kids and so on, yet being very humble. This taught me that women can lead from so many fronts with the ability to balance professional and personal leadership skills. It’s time for us to overcome the myths and start leading the new initiatives of empowering ourselves and other women leaders towards creating a better world, following our dreams and passion. Both men and women need to pave way for better leaders with an inclusiveness mindset. Let’s follow iconic leaders from our rich heritage and step forward towards building a better world together.
|Author – Swati Yadav
A global HR Transformational leader with 20 years of experience in varied industry segments including Large scale manufacturing, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology, Telecommunication, Consulting – IT & FMCG in India and Europe. Swati has expertise in driving change, Organization restructuring, capability building, Leadership Development, nurturing high-performance talent, building diversity and inclusion strategies to enable business for sustainable growth and profitability.
As an Executive Coach, my passion is to build businesses through leadership alliances.
“Embrace each challenge in your life as an opportunity for self-transformation”