Why HR Needs to Help Women get a Seat at the Leadership Table

ExedIn my recent interview with Melanie Hulbert, we discussed what HR pros can do to help women reach their full potential for leadership in the workplace. With significant hurdles in the way of women on the path to leadership, it’s important that a push for leadership equality comes from the top down. There’s a number of training resources available for workplaces that want to institute inclusive, female-positive, leadership policies.

One amazing free resource available online, is Leading to Choices: A Leadership Training Handbook for Women, written by Mahnaz Afkhami, Ann Eisenberg, and Haleh Vaziri. The handbook not only goes over training procedures for women leaders, but also touched on why it’s so vitally important that women leaders are provided the opportunity to thrive in sometimes male-dominated work environments. Leading Choices offers outlines for workshop sessions developing leadership skills in women. If you’re interested in offering those types of sessions in your workplace, this handbook is a great resource to help you accomplish that.

Higher ed has already instituted training sessions such as these. Hulbert mentioned in our interview, that higher ed faculty members have something called, women leadership development initiatives (WLDI). She explains the function WLDIs serves.

“What these do, is have leaders and supervisors within an organization identify women employees in their office, who show potential, and have expressed interest in moving up, and they can apply or they become a part of this initiative.” Hulbert states.

“In this initiative, they take a, let’s say 6-week course, where during lunch, they meet, and each week, there’s a new topic and a new speaker basically saying ‘Here’s the roots upwards, toward growth within this organization.’ So you might have, say the president come in one day and speak. Or you might have someone come in and give a lecture on how to develop your leadership style. Or help you figure out what type of leadership style you have, because not everyone leads the same.” Hulbert continues.

One of the many reasons it should be a priority for all businesses to train female leaders, is studies indicating it help close the gender wage gap. According to a 2012 study by UCLA professors, Geoffrey Tatea, and Liu Yangbtitled, titled Female Leadership and Gender Equity: Evidence from Plant Closure, “Having a female leader reduces the gender gap in the firm by 5.6 percentage points (or, by roughly 20%)”.

In another study, Women-Led Firms and the Gender Gap in Top Executive Jobs, by Linda A. Bell, similar results were found. “Female executives in women-led firms earn between 10-20% more than comparable executive women in male-led firms and are between 3-18% more likely to be among the highest five paid executives in these firms as well.”

With implications that female leaders within a company can help close the gender wage gap, it becomes clear why it’s important for HR pros to help assist women’s progression into leadership positions. A little time and effort is all that’s needed to implement this type of training for female employees. There are countless free or low-cost resources available to aid in the training process. So HR pros, do what you can to help women get the confidence and training they need to help bring about pay and workplace equality.

Image by Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO (www.skolkovo.ru) (http://www.skolkovo.ru) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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