More women in the workforce will impact your culture and leadership. Understanding the needs of this new model will put you far ahead of your competition.
The number of women in the American workforce has now edged past the number of men for only the second time ever, according to a recent Washington Post article, and we have reason to believe this trend is here to stay. In fact, in 2016 and 2017 the number of women receiving bachelor’s degrees surpassed men by 14 percent.
Meanwhile, over the last 30 years, the percentage of stay-at-home dads has also risen. In the U.S. these numbers have steadily increased from 4 percent to 7 percent, according to the Pew Research Center. In Canada reports show that fathers account for 10 percent of all stay-at-home parents. This is undoubtedly another clear indication that times are changing and that families are beginning to embrace non-traditional roles. The question is, is everyone else?
In my book Lean On, I tell my story about being a stay-at-home dad, married to a successful female executive. Having been in the stay-at-home-dad role for 13 years, I have experienced what it is like for those living in a non-traditional family model.
One of the biggest challenges that these families face is a lack of understanding of how they function and the tools they need to be successful. From friends and family, to teachers and those in the workplace, traditional models are still upheld in the minds and practices of those unwilling to let go of their dated ideas.
Why Should This Matter to You?
Clearly, the workforce is changing and these changes have many implications that will, no doubt, ripple through our society. To be competitive, businesses must change the way they promote and structure their leadership models. Thus, early adoption of forward-thinking practices will present exciting opportunities for your company.
Already unconscious-bias training has become standard in the workplace. Still, to stay ahead, it is vital that you and your company begin to truly embrace women as leaders. While others are trying to push her down, your support could be the rung she needs to make it to the top.
Although in the age of #MeToo it might be understandable that many men in management shy away from mentoring women, that still should not deter those men from helping women in other ways.
Be a coach and leader, not a boss
Be open minded to new ways of thinking
Be hard but fair without looking at gender
Become someone women can Lean On
Why Should Your Company Care About Women Climbing the Corporate Ladder?
A 2016 article on medium.com reported that, among four other benefits, profitability was a key factor for employing women, especially in leadership roles.
Here’s a snippet of what that article said: A 2016 survey of 21,980 publicly traded companies in 91 countries concluded that “the presence of more female leaders in top positions of corporate management correlates with increased profitability of these companies.” This confirms what study after study for more than a decade has found — that having increased female leadership on your team or board leads to increased financial results.
Attracting and Keeping Female Leaders
While money is a big factor for any employee, work culture has grown to be equally as important for keeping employees happy. Being a supportive, flexible, family-friendly company can give you a clear edge on the competition. This includes understanding and catering to the unique needs of women and their families.
For example, while not all female executives are married to stay-at-home dads, it is definitely something to consider when making key culture decisions. In my book, I reference an actual incident that occurred at one of my wife’s work parties. At these parties, it was traditional to hand out gift baskets to the spouses of executive-level managers. Imagine my surprise when I opened my basket to find a plethora of items clearly intended for wives/females. Although this was a bias I often experienced, it was a new and eye-opening revelation for her company. After several awkward apologies, we had a good laugh and moved on to the festivities.
Other Levels of Consideration
There are several forms of bias in the upper-levels of any workplace. But these biases can also reach into other levels of your business model.
Take your business’s public restroom for instance. Though changing tables in men’s rooms are making their way into more and more retail locations, they are far from the norm. When my children were babies, I often found myself hard-pressed to locate a private area to perform their change.
Businesses that consider and embrace the evolving needs of this new family model will, no doubt, put themselves in a unique and favorable light.
Andreas Wilderer is a leadership coach, keynote speaker and avid supporter of women in leadership. His book is Lean On – The Five Pillars of Support for Women in Leadership (CLICK HERE to get your copy).
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