Connecting Business – Growing Opportunities

Empowering future generations of women leaders

By Judith O’Leary, MD at Represent

We’re all aware that women aspiring to leadership positions are often met with barriers, be they outdated attitudes, implicit bias, or social restrictions.

Whilst there has been a lot of progress in advancing women in leadership positions, a lot remains to be done. Out of the FTSE 350, a quarter have only one woman on their board, and the 14th of November 2019 marks the day when women are effectively working for free thanks to the gender pay gap.

Although there is more work to be done, we can all contribute to a positive future by empowering women leaders.

Empowering environments

Company culture has one of the greatest impacts on workplace empowerment. If women are encouraged to speak up, and most importantly, if they are listened to, then they will be more empowered to reach leadership positions.

In your company, consider whether your culture is empowering or restricting to women’s development. Are women’s opinions listened to, or are they routinely spoken over at meetings? Are men held to the same standard at your workplace? Do you give the same weight to pay rise requests from men and women?

Although I’m sure you answered yes to all of these questions, the statistics suggest otherwise. If you’re really serious about empowering women leaders, be honest with yourself about your company’s culture, and implement necessary changes.

Teach technical skills

Women pursuing leadership positions are often encouraged to develop leadership skills – how to command a room, how to get their point across, how to gain their team’s confidence. These are all, of course, vital skills for anyone wanting to lead in business.

The problem is that, often, men don’t have to spend time learning these skills. They already have the privilege of being respected within the workplace, and their voices are more readily heard. While women are encouraged to spend time focusing on leadership skills, men are busy learning the technical skills that will make them better at their jobs and put them in better standing for management roles.

If you’re nurturing female talent, make sure you’re providing adequate training in both technical and leadership skills, or risk diminishing their experience.

Causeway Business Exchange is pleased to support women in business and will be hosting  an event entitled “Empowering the Next Generation of Women Leaders” with expert speakers including Alex Hems, Head of St George's School for Girls, Judith O'Leary, Founder and MD of Represent and Haley Clifford of Cairn Counselling.

To sign up to attend a future Women in Business event, please join Causeway here.

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