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How to Cultivate Female Leadership

Over the past five years, the number of women in senior leadership in the corporate world has grown. Yet, according to Lean In, women continue to be underrepresented at every level. Only 38% of managers in the corporate world and only 21% of the C-Suite are female. Among S&P 500 companies, this number is even less. Catalyst  reports that women account for only 5.8% of CEO positions. 

“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg

Although progress has been made in terms of female leaders in business, it is important that we still consider Justice Ginsberg’s words and how we consciously need to apply that to our world today. When women are at all levels of leadership in an organization, the company benefits from more diverse problem solving and different skillsets. This translates to increased productivity, more competitive advantages, and a stronger bottom line.

AdobeStock_307688949In order to empower and cultivate female leadership, businesses need to be intentional and prioritize results.

Evaluate Hiring Practices. It is important that companies review their hiring processes on a regular basis. How do you find qualified candidates and are you able to evaluate candidates fairly? Everyone has their own biases, so a diverse hiring team will help eliminate any prejudice.

Focus on Culture. Companies that focus on a positive work/life balance are better aligned to attract and retain women. Flexible work hours, remote working, and flexible paid time off are all strategies that appeal to women.

Review Pay Ranges. On average, women earn 81.6 cents for every dollar a man makes. If women earn less from the beginning of their careers, they will always be playing catch-up even as they receive promotions. Businesses must perform periodic compensation reviews to ensure equal pay for equal work and that women and minorities are not negatively impacted.

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Promote from Within. Companies that promote from within the organization are able to be more efficient and save both time and money. Having a strong program to develop future leaders is key to the success of any organization. It is important that management is forward thinking and focuses on growing future leaders.

AdobeStock_305387217-1Encourage Mentorship.  Whether formalized affinity groups or informal peer mentoring, women benefit from building relationships with other women. When women come together, they can find a safe space of belonging in an organization, regardless the size. Mentors are able encourage each other and this natural process leads to leadership development and a more inclusive environment.

Listen to all Voices. Women often have a different working style than men. It is important that companies respect that and pay attention to the differences. Women should not have to conform to male leadership styles. Progressive businesses recognize this and develop future leaders by building on the individual’s unique strengths as opposed to one approach.

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Justice Ginsberg was right, women do belong in the places where decisions are made. But change does not happen overnight. Companies need to be intentional and work to ensure that future leaders are developed based on their skills, performance, and talents, and not their gender. Bringing the diverse perspectives of both men and women to an organization benefits everyone.

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About Propel HR. Propel HR is an IRS-certified PEO that has been a leading provider of human resources and payroll solutions for more than 20 years. Propel partners with small to midsized businesses to manage payroll, employee benefits, compliance and risks, and other HR functions in a way that maximizes efficiency and reduces costs. For more information, visit www.propelhr.com.

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Lee Yarborough

Lee Yarborough

Lee Yarborough and her father, Braxton Cutchin, founded the company in 1996. She has served on the Board of Directors of NAPEO and currently serves as the Chair for the NAPEO Carolinas Leadership Council. In 2015, she was named a Fellow of the eleventh class of the Liberty Fellowship Program and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Lee also serves on the Executive Board of Public Education Partners and is the founder and director of Read Up Greenville, a young adult and middle grades book festival in downtown Greenville, SC.

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