Companies that fail to invest in their female populations are underinvesting in the human capital needed to assure sustainability. While women around the world account for more than half of the talent, as a group, they remain marginalized with their social, economic and environmental contributions unrealized.
Female participation in the labor force is on the rise. In OECD countries, on average, only 60% of women are employed but in Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, women already make up more than 70% of the workforce. Finland has the highest number of women in full-time employment, 84 % of total female employment. However, the pay gap remains even there. While Finnish women earn 19% less than male wage earners, the wage gap in Norway and New Zealand is 6%. On average, women around the world still earn 18% less than men performing the same job.
It is baffling that one of the largest gender wage gaps is found in management positions where work experience and educational background are similar for men and women. Leaders like Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, are taking this gap seriously. Buffett is a member of a group of business leaders whose focus is to increase diversity in the top leadership of companies – for business reasons. The 30% Club says that the right mix of genders and diversity helps businesses avoid ‘group think’, and better gender balance is a key factor in business profitability. Society, businesses and individual men and women will benefit when we integrate the best of both worlds to the way we work.
A work-life balance
A study conducted by the Diversity Council Australia found that more than 80% of men admit they would like to be able to choose when they start and finish their work days, have the freedom to compress a work week, work part time and even work from home. Since women leaders are often (also) mothers, women understand the need for this work-life balance and therefore, tend to implement more flexibility into the workplace.
Move over “Mad Men” stereotype
Harvard University study found that most men continue to align themselves with the profile of the ‘company man’ who is expected to dedicate endless work hours and be the primary breadwinner. The study also noted that many of these same men did not want a life of the ‘company man’; instead, they craved to be more engaged in their lives. Women leaders are not tied to those expectations. So they are redefining that stereotype for men as well when they create new ways of working and break the old mold of “breadwinning”.
Enhanced family life
As men and women become increasingly equal in sharing the work load at work and at home, they also can share the parenting responsibilities in a more balanced manner. Men are becoming more active partners in parenting and they will be working less hours in the office. This will result in them tending more to their children and experiencing a more fulfilling family life. Studies show that fathers who work less than 55 hours a week experience less behavioral problems with their children, specifically their sons, than fathers who work more than 55 hours per week.
An analysis of American Fortune 500 companies found that companies with more women at the highest levels of management enjoyed better ROE (return on equity) performances by 35.1% and shareholder returns of 34% higher than companies that lacked gender diversity.
Article Author: Kristiina Hiukka is a Seattle-based professional leadership consultant, coach and trainer. She works with CEO’s who are ready to invest in women leaders in their companies. She specializes in up and coming CFO’s, CEO’s, and Management Teams. She believes in creating positivity driven performance cultures. She grooms leaders and facilitates teams at small companies as well as global organizations such as Microsoft, Nokia, and the American Red Cross. She founded Women in Innovation, a community and summit that convenes women leaders with Big Ideas. A native of Finland, Kristiina serves as Honorary Vice Consul of Finland for the State of Washington. Kristiina speaks on a variety of leadership topics connected to her passions: Leadership, Innovation, Collaboration, Communication, and Gender Intelligence kristiinahiukka.com.
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