Skillsoft Blog

Women in Leadership: The Supply/Demand Conundrum

Priti ShahBy Priti Shah

Research continues to validate that global organizations with women in leadership roles experience increased productivity, creativity and profitability.  And, according to a recent McKinsey study, of the nine key behaviors leaders must possess in today’s economic landscape women exhibit five of these behaviors more often than men.

But where are the women leaders in business? There is no denying that women are conspicuously absent in leadership positions across the globe. In the United States women hold more than half of all professional-level jobs, yet comprise only 5 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.  The statistics are just as unsettling abroad. In most European countries women comprise less than 20 percent of all corporate boards, and women represent just 6% of corporate boards in Asia.

I find it interesting that we have been discussing this gender gap for many years now and agree that more women leaders are crucial. Yet, with all these discussions, the numbers have shifted very little and the pipeline of future women leaders still suffers. Clearly, by simply continuing to discuss the problem, we will not resolve this. Instead, it is time to create solutions and take action.

As talent management and learning professionals, we must first formally declare gender diversity as a business imperative, and then create the infrastructure that supports women leaders by providing them learning resources required for success.  Best-in-class organizations are already investing in leadership development programs to help women overcome struggles distinctive to this demographic, including how to overcome unconscious bias and improve self-promotion abilities.

It is crucial that organizations have awareness of this disparity, but for their future success, leading organizations must also act on this gap. Let act on this together.

Click here to see a short video featuring Liz O’Donnell from Skillsoft’s Leadership Channel, discussing “Why We Need Women in the Workplace.”  Liz is the author “Mogul, Mom, & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman.”

Priti Shah is vice president of leadership product strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft. Follow her on Twitter at @priticshah.

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