Why Women Make Great Leaders & How to Retain Them

Women play an unequivocal role in the workplace. While women in the workforce have been on a steady incline since the 1930s, a study conducted by business leader Robert F. Smith found that only 33% of women held a CEO position at a Fortune 500 company in 2020. Of course, there are many reasons for this, including industry type and education level, however, many companies still fail to recognize the specific needs women have, including why they may not pursue leadership roles in the first place despite having the necessary qualifications to succeed. This can’t be overlooked as one of the key factors to the statistic provided above. 

Going back to the study conducted by Robert F. Smith, approximately 1 in 4 companies agree that advancing women in leadership roles is a top priority for them in 2021. Women make great leaders for several reasons. First and foremost, many women tend to value a good work-life balance. This isn’t to say this applies solely to women. A recent 2020 study showed that men face just as many struggles juggling their home and career, however, 59% of men felt uncomfortable admitting this to their employer as opposed to 42% of women. This directness is one of the benefits of putting women in leadership roles because they aren’t afraid to have tough conversations or be sympathetic to real-life problems that exist outside of the office. 

This highlights another trait women have: listening. According to Jo Hausman, a career leadership coach, “Women make great leaders because we take the time to listen instead of reacting right away.” Active listening plays an integral role in the workplace because, without it, problems wouldn’t get solved. Furthermore, active listening allows you to consume feedback, whether positive or negative, and gain insightful information you can use for building sales value and updating your marketing strategies, customer service, products, and sales points. 

In addition to active listening skills and problem-solving, a woman’s ability to be empathetic and understanding toward their staff is underutilized in terms of importance. Employees who feel seen and heard at work are 4.6 times more likely to go above and beyond the call of duty than those whose personal lives, educational needs, and opportunities for advancement are not recognized or cared for. 

If you’re a business owner who is looking to advance the careers and opportunities of women in the workplace, here are five ways you can retain them before they go off to the competition: 

1. Offer Flexibility and Address Their Unique Needs

While we mentioned earlier that men are not immune from the stressors of balancing work and family, women are more likely to put their careers second if it means taking care of their children. The COVID-19 pandemic proved this, with approximately 8 million female workers leaving their jobs or planning to do so to help with full-time child-rearing and remote learning. This is one way current leaders can retain female employees. 

If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the needs of the family are ever-evolving and the workplace has to adapt to the new normal. By offering flexibility to women that focuses on productivity and tasks completed rather than hours worked, you help create a culture in which they feel valued. You also create an environment where they don’t have to choose between work and home. 

2. Provide Praise and Recognition for Hard Work

Women are used to working a thankless job, both at home and in the workplace. A lot of this comes down to women’s natural tendency to organize and wear more hats than she probably should. This can cause people to take advantage of their niceness and generosity. 

By recognizing women’s efforts in the workplace, you not only make them feel heard but you can improve their overall productivity and happiness at work, which plays a significant role in employee retention. This is the biggest benefit of providing praise and recognition, with 63% of employees being more likely to stay with their employer for at least three to six months if they were considering a move. 

While a timeframe of only 3-6 months may not feel like it’s worth it, just imagine what these numbers would be if this was practiced from the onset of hiring. When an employee feels valued, they will be more likely to see a future at the company, rather than a stepping stone or place to secure a paycheck. Recognition is an easy way to prevent low employee retention

3. Access to Training and Workshops

Speaking of a future at work, you should empower your female staff by making them aware of opportunities for advancement, including training and workshops. Women are less likely than men to pursue leadership opportunities if they feel like they do not meet every single qualification listed in the job posting. Leadership training can help boost confidence, propelling more women to apply to leadership roles. 

Furthermore, you should also champion soft skills and place a priority over them as opposed to how experienced someone is with a specific software or technique. Remember, anyone can learn a new system but you can’t always teach natural-born motivation and critical thinking. Emphasizing soft skills and how they could advance a leadership role is another way of making your workplace more diverse and putting everyone on an even playing field. 

4. Mentoring Opportunities

Everyone needs someone to look up to, and at work, it’s no different. Mentoring opportunities have several benefits, including the development of leadership skills, increased job knowledge, and overall satisfaction. Furthermore, having someone who has walked down the road your employee is currently on can make them feel like what they want to achieve is possible. Employees who are mentored by another executive are promoted five times faster than those who are without. 

5. Assess Your Company Culture and Kick Gender Biases to the Door

You can’t create an environment that advances women’s careers if leadership at the top isn’t on board. While everyone at a job should be treated equally, you can’t have a diverse workplace that suffers from anti-inclusive perspectives or gender bias. Even if these biases are unconscious, it’s important to take the time to examine what your hiring practices are and how you promote from within. A common example of unconscious bias at work is if you view a particular behavior from your male employees as assertive, but view the same behavior in women as aggressive. 

Taking the time to analyze and address any bias at work, whether it be on purpose or unconsciously, is a step in the right direction of making women feel more comfortable at work and advance them into leadership positions. 

Placing Value on Women in the Workplace Makes Your Company More Successful 

Women are an invaluable asset in the workplace. Making sure your company offers opportunities for women is important to make sure everyone who is qualified for advancements, gets an equal chance for one. If you want to know how to make employees feel valued, these tips can help. 

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Marla DiCarlo is an accomplished business consultant with more than 28 years of professional accounting experience. As co-owner and CEO of Raincatcher, she helps business owners get their business ready to sell so they find the best buyer and get paid the maximum value for their business. Marla has a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is a member of several professional organizations.

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