How can you, as an HR leader, help create a workplace culture that’s friendly to women leaders? Advancing women into leadership roles within organizations continues to be a hot topic—but not just from the standpoint of pay equity or gender parity, though these issues still require attention.
Rather, there’s another angle that deserves focus: the fact that women bring to the table unique qualities, skills, and experiences that not only help them thrive in leadership roles but help the organizations they work for thrive as well.
As society marches forward and the workplace continues to evolve, women hold the key to much of the positive change that still needs to happen. Here’s a closer look at how women are equipped to lead teams and companies.
What women leaders bring to the table
There is broad diversity among women in life experience, career, upbringing, education, personality, and more. This is by no means a complete list, but in general, women bring the following positive attributes to the table:
- Honesty and ethics. In business, women are perceived as having an edge over men when it comes to honesty and ethics, with 34% of Americans saying women are better at this and only 3% saying men are. By valuing honesty and ethics on the job, women are influential in creating greater transparency and demanding adherence to a code of conduct that guides behaviors and decisions. All of this shapes a consistent business culture where everyone can understand and abide by the rules and treat each other, as well as customers, vendors, and other partners, with respect.
- Attention to detail. Women tend to move back and forth between the left brain (logical, analytical, linear) and the right brain (creative, intuitive, non-linear). As such, women are uniquely skilled at absorbing information through a variety of means and calling up that information for other occasions or uses. This often results in women being more interested in and focused on details than men. In business leadership, attention to detail goes hand-in-hand with quality of work and credibility.
- Empathy. While both genders have the capacity for empathy, women tend toward greater empathy than men. This is largely due to men and women being conditioned differently in society to handle emotions. Though empathy has often been thought of as a “soft skill” in leadership—read: unhelpful or weak—in reality it’s an important ability. Empathy is gained through observation and practice and helps women relate well to others and seed trustworthiness among colleagues. Trust is the foundation of strong working relationships that can improve employee retention and loyalty.
- Openness to compromise. It’s not always easy, but there’s still little doubt that compromise is a necessary and healthy component of nearly every aspect of human life, including the working world. When a woman is added to the mix, men are more likely to compromise, and when two women work together, compromise is even more likely. Translating this to business and leadership, the ability for a woman leader to achieve compromise can help all-or-nothing, unnecessary, or overly risky outcomes be avoided.
How HR can create a culture that’s friendly to female leaders
It’s easy to say your business is committed to hiring and promoting women into leadership roles, but your current HR and workplace practices may only be talk. Here’s what you can do to ensure your business culture is truly friendly to female leaders:
- Treat women in leadership as a must-have. When you take concrete action and offer leadership roles to women, you set in motion more opportunities to follow. Women leaders beget more women leaders, which means female empowerment in the workplace is no longer just an ambition, but a reality.
- Establish development and mentorship programs. Moving women employees into positions of greater power and leadership should also be accompanied by professional development and mentorship programs. Programs where women can learn from other leaders and gain the confidence they need to step comfortably into the positions they deserve is necessary for success. Many women will avoid a promotion or leadership role if they don’t feel 100% qualified to be there. The right program can make all the difference in assuring women of their own capacity to grow and flourish in positions of power.
- Ask for feedback. Even if you’re doing everything right, there can still be blind spots or areas of improvement. Provide a genuinely receptive space for women in your workforce to share challenges, advocate for themselves, make recommendations, and ask for advice. Doing so can help you proactively make the changes needed to prioritize gender diversity in leadership.
How Obsidian HR can help
It’s important to recognize and seek out the valuable qualities women have that make them uniquely suited to lead, whether as a team leader, manager, or C-suite executive.
A local, trusted partner like Obsidian HR can help you create a culture that values and empowers women leaders by helping you attract and retain the right talent, develop and offer training and skills development, and strategize about your business and workforce that open up more doors to female leadership.
Watch our panel discussion of women in leadership to hear an incredible group of leaders share their perspective and advice on a range of topics from pay equity to leading through crisis.