Increasing the Number of Women in Global Leadership Roles

11/24/2015

There is no difference in the management style of male and female executives, or in their ability to respond to the typical challenges of the business world. So why are fewer women in top positions at companies worldwide? Development Dimensions International took a look at this question as part of its 2015 Global Leadership Forecast, and what it found was noteworthy.

According to DDI, there is quite a confidence gap between the genders, with female executives being less likely to rate themselves as highly effective leaders compared with their peers. This lower level of confidence means that fewer of them pursue valuable growth opportunities, such as going on international assignments or leading geographically dispersed teams. Missing out on these opportunities, in turn, means they are less likely to be promoted or to advance within their companies.

Not only are female employees themselves harmed by this situation, their companies are too. After all, gender diversity in leadership positions creates greater diversity of thought, which, in turn, leads to improved problem solving and greater business benefits. As DDI noted in its report, companies with between 30 and 40 percent female leadership do better financially. So what can companies do to increase the number of women in their top ranks? 

Closing the confidence gap, which is at the root of the problem, is the first step. Because development opportunities build confidence, companies are advised to bolster their current development programs or implement new ones to allow female leaders to build knowledge and skills. Mentoring should be a component of any development program. As DDI notes, women who have achieved senior leadership roles overwhelmingly report how critical mentorship was in helping them advance and grow in their careers.

At the same time, companies must ensure that formal practices that include a focus on gender are in place for selecting and transitioning leaders for international assignments. This way they can be sure that high-potential female leaders are taking up essential opportunities to develop their global business skills. 

Having more women in leadership positions is good for companies, and for female leaders themselves. Organizations should be sure to intentionally focus on high-potential female leaders to help them develop the global skills they need to take their companies into the future.