How Can HR Managers Promote Women Leadership in an Organisation?

July 13, 20158:18 am5499 views
How Can HR Managers Promote Women Leadership in an Organisation?
Promoting Women Leadership

While majority of women aspire to hold top roles, many find it increasingly difficult to see themselves as leaders. How do HR professionals help support this women leadership growth trend among employees? What are the factors that motivate women to move up the ladder?

According to a recent KPMG’s Women Leadership Study, on more than 3,000 professional women in United States, it identified confidence building and leadership training, along with the ability to network with women leaders, as key elements to expanding women’s leadership in the years ahead.

These findings were released in association with the KPMG Women’s Leadership Summit, an event that brought together most accomplished leaders in business, sports, politics and media to inspire the generation next of women leaders. A woman’s perception of leadership begins not with collegiate academic success, her first big break or when she’s named to a position of power. The trajectory to female leadership starts much earlier and is defined by key influences throughout her life.

“Every organization is stronger when its leadership has diverse perspectives and experiences to draw from. It is critically important for the business community to look at the challenges women often face in the workplace, and take action to clear the path for talented and dynamic leaders to rise and inspire new generations,” said KPMG Global Chairman John Veihmeyer.

“It’s vital that leadership teams reflect the diversity of the modern world. In a business landscape of continuous change, success is often going to depend on having a range of experiences and perspectives around the boardroom table,” said Lynne Doughtie, KPMG U.S. Chairman and CEO-elect.

Three-quarters of women expressed their desire to learn more about leadership while growing up, as having more opportunities to practice leadership. Schools and academics were identified as areas wherein leaders grew up. To help move more women into leadership positions, many cited the need for confidence building (56%), decision making (48%), critical thinking (46%), leadership (57%) and networking (47%).

See: Expanding roles for working women

Confidence building is one of the key attributes identified for successful leadership. The lack of confidence affects an array of other activities tied to ultimately becoming leaders: nine in 10 women said they do not feel confident asking for sponsors (92%), with large numbers also lacking confidence seeking mentors (79%), asking for access to senior leadership (76%), pursuing a job opportunity beyond their experience (73%), asking for a career path plan (69%), requesting a promotion (65%), raise (61%), or a new role or position (56%).

Doughtie added: “This is an area of opportunity for organizations to identify and develop factors that help women gain confidence to lead at work. Reinforcing confidence can go a long way in helping to bridge the gap between the aspiration to lead and ultimately becoming a leader.”

Another key finding that will help promote growth of more women leaders is support from other women leaders and encouragement from co-workers. Most women agree to the fact that they have learnt or imbibed leadership traits from other women of the same or different fraternity. Many women at later stages in their career path feel a personal obligation to help more women in the workplaces. However it’s startling to note that, only one-third of working women have learned to leverage and support other female employees.

Veihmeyer added in the report, “To ensure a sustainable pipeline of exceptional female leaders, companies need to be innovative in developing programs that provide opportunities for growth and advancement, while also intentionally seeking out and encouraging these high-performing women to participate in these programs.”

Overall, much has been gained and accomplished for aspiring women leaders; many have been sidetracked by a lack of confidence, encouragement, connections or opportunities from childhood and later. Providing women with access to career development programs and ongoing positive feedback could propel them further toward leadership

To empower more women to reach the highest ranks, human resource managers must focus on three key areas: socializing leadership early in life, modelling leadership and building confidence through role models and networking and providing or enhancing corporate development programs that move more women forward. To move more women forward, there need to be mentorships and networks supporting women inside and outside the organization.

Also read: Female brain drain in Asia – why advancing gender diversity is an economic imperative

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