Skillsoft Blog

Three Strategies to Develop Women Leaders

By Priti Shah

What is your organization doing to develop women as leaders? If your organization is like most – you’re not doing enough. A 2015 survey, The Impact of Women in the Workforce, by Skillsoft® reports only 24% of respondents felt their organizations had a strategy in place to develop women leaders.[1]

 “There are unofficial women’s groups within our company but the company does not specify certain programs for women-only development.” – Skillsoft survey response

An overwhelming 87% of survey respondents say there are more men in senior positions within their organization. Just 7% respond that their organization is “very good” and 1% respond that their organization is “excellent” at addressing the challenges of the gender gap in leadership.

How can your organization become part of the 1% making “excellent” strides in developing women as leaders? Consider these three strategies:

Strategy 1 – Evaluate work-life balance for employees

Two out of three women think that work-life balance is the number one challenge for women in the workforce.[2]

 “A lot of the time the biggest challenge is making a choice – family, home, or career. Men just don’t have to make the same choice (all things being equal) so the first choice is career.” – Skillsoft survey response

Strategy 2 – Create ongoing opportunities to develop women leaders throughout their career cycle

From emerging leaders to senior-level management, consider learning programs for all experience levels in your organization. 76% of survey respondents work in organizations without a strategy in place for developing women in leadership roles.[3] Adopting and implementing leadership training will make your organization competitive.

Strategy 3 – Commit to company-wide leadership programs that are relevant, time efficient and flexible

Leadership education must focus on key competencies required for career growth at all levels. To meet the time demands of all workers,education programs must be efficient and tailored to fit the experience level of each employee.

Would changing the gender balance in your organization benefit your bottom line? Yes. Companies with female leaders perform better. A study by Catalyst showsthe group of companies with the highest representation of women on their top management teams experienced better financial performance than the group of companies with the lowest women’s representation.[4]

Developing women for leadership requires continuous, ongoing education. Investing in training to develop and support women leaders will lead your organization to better business results.

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


[1] Women in the Workforce survey Skillsoft®, 2015

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] The Bottom Line: Connecting Corporate Performance and Gender Diversity Catalyst, 2004.

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