While the business world is slowly embracing the inclusion of more women in boardrooms, the number of women in leadership roles is still far from being on a par with their male counterparts.
The number of women in positions of leadership has increased and is showing signs of continuing the trend in every sector of business life.
But…what does it take to be a good leader in business?
Chelsey Baker, CEO & Founder of the National Mentoring Day and National Mentoring Awards, believes that great leaders know how to clearly and openly communicate; they are resilient and have a strong focus on their direction, goals and vision. They know how to delegate and are often great at encouraging and empowering others.
We have also asked her about women leaders and she agreed that they excel at collaboration; they are naturally nurturing bringing people with them and leading from the front, developing, inspiring and motivating others along the way.
Bonnie Lister Parsons, Founder & CEO of Seen on Screen, thinks that great leaders, particularly female leaders, know how to strike a balance between being inspiring and aspirational but crucially, relatable too.
“They are strong, but also strong enough to show vulnerability. They are not afraid to say: ‘I see your struggle’, ‘I hear you’. Even though they’re at an elevated level, somehow they’re also right there with you leading a company, country or movement you believe in”, she added.
Key things you need to know about women in business:
- Women on boards and gender pay gap
Concern over the lack of women in decision making positions appears to be a trend globally, with many countries taking positive action to reverse these indicators.
FTSE 350 companies are on track to meet the 33% target for women on board roles by 2020.
Although we can see improvements it might take a while until we see equal representation on all the boards.
In terms of law firms’ workforce, women in law make up 48% of all lawyers and 47% of the total workforce. However, when looking at positions of partner and above, the average goes down to 30% instead. At LawBite we pride ourselves to have more than 70% female lawyers at partner level in our team and we will pursue to try to empower women and inspire them to continue to grow within their professional career.
Nine out ten women work for a company that pays them less than men.
According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level yet. The average female employee now earns 8.6% less than the average man.
One of most the recent equal pay and unfair dismissal claims against a company, was the case of Sam Walker who was a company director in charge of HR at Co-op. She argued that she was dismissed after raising issues about her own pay and warning leaders within the company that there was discrimination because they were paying men and women at a different rate for the same roles. The tribunal ruled that the Co-op “directly discriminated against the claimant on the ground of sex”. She said she is now determined to help other women with equal pay disputes.
- Women in politics
A new UK Gender-Sensitive Parliament Audit, carried out by the members and staff of both Houses of Parliament, found that steady progress has been made increasing the representation of women. It found that the percentage of female MPs has risen from 18.2% to 32% since 1997 while the percentage of women in the House of Lords has increased from 7.1% to 26.1% in the same period.
- Women mentoring
One of the most valued ways to build female leadership in the workplace is through mentorship because it is a crucial part for personal and professional development.
LawBite is an official sponsor of the National Women Mentoring Award at the National Mentoring Awards that took place on 1st March 2019, firming our commitment to mentoring and equality.
The awards are a national celebration to honour ‘Mentoring Excellence’ and give public recognition to individuals and organisations who mentor across all walks of life, whether in their business, community, personal or professional lives, founded by leading business mentor Chelsey Baker.
We have asked Chelsey about the main benefits of taking part in a mentoring programme, she said that mentoring is very important as it can allow people to unlock their potential and succeed at goals they never thought they could achieve. It can guide and support people to develop both personally and professionally giving them the confidence to try new things and move in new directions. Mentored employees feel more invested in, which helps increase productivity, loyalty and reduce staff turnover.
Being involved in a mentoring programme can accelerate the personal growth of the mentee by challenging them. Mentoring improves people’s ability to resolve challenges and frustrations leaving them feeling more fulfilled. It builds a positive atmosphere where people feel supported which helps in challenging times. Other benefits include increase in confidence, access to networks, contacts, knowledge and guidance.
Bonnie Lister Parsons agreed saying: “There’s a good saying – ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Talking through business problems (or just business thoughts!) with someone who is an expert in your field is enormously helpful. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially when you’re shouldering the responsibility of running your own business, so having the guidance of a mentor who has been there and done it, can be invaluable.”
Not everyone is fortunate to find mentors in their workplace, so it is key for companies to create mentoring programmes to help young women in their early stages of their careers to develop their leadership skills.