This article was written by Coco Quillen, VP of Operations at Davinci Virtual Office Solutions. She manages the strategic development and operational implementation of services for Davinci and works closely with all teams to ensure customers are well taken care of.
The world is in desperate need of great leaders—whether in business or in politics. Yet, many leadership opportunities are withheld from half of the workforce.
We are talking, of course, about women in leadership. Even with all the progress we’ve made for equality in so many important ways, women are still severely underrepresented in business leadership positions. Women-led companies make up only 4% of Fortune 500 companies, a trend that holds steady throughout most business sectors.
This inequality could be, in part, because not everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the importance of women in business. Some believe women should be capable of reaching leadership on their own, while others don’t understand what makes women suited to the job.
Thankfully, not everybody is buying this. Many businesses and industries are waking up to the reality that women in leadership not only bring important benefits, but that they are an absolutely invaluable and irreplaceable resource in the office, in the boardroom, on the Senate floor, at the podium, and at the head of the table.
Here are just three reasons why promoting and supporting female leaders should be a top priority for all businesses.
Why We Need Women in Business Leadership
1. Women Bargain & Negotiate With the Best of Them
Don’t think women have what it takes to negotiate in high-stakes situations? It has been well documented that women are often more effective at making deals than men, even when the stakes are as high as the highest governing body in the land. In fact, women in the Senate are better at working with people of different viewpoints and opinions to get things done than their male counterparts. These women leaders drive bipartisan collaboration and cooperation and help move things along in a governing body that is notorious for deadlock and infighting. In short, if you want a bill to get through Capitol Hill, you will have a better chance if you get female senators to sponsor, support, and champion the bill.
In business, female leaders can achieve agreements and make deals where men might fall short. But they have to be at the table, and they have to be given positions of leadership and authority.
2. Having Women in Leadership Will Help Close the Pay Gap
The gender pay gap is a maddening phenomenon that has persisted despite decades of progress in the workplace. For too long, experts have been looking for a way to close the gender pay gap (women make 77.9 cents per every dollar that men earn) without much meaningful progress. But one of the most promising solutions is the initiative to empower women to gain leadership positions.
In reality, there isn’t just a gender pay gap—there’s a gender opportunity gap. According to the PayScale article referenced above, women and men start their careers making roughly the same amount of money for the same work, but men are offered more opportunities to advance into higher-paying leadership positions. Halfway through their careers, men are 70% more likely to be in executive positions than women, and towards the end of their careers, men are 142% more likely to fill the offices of the C-suite than women.
Since leaders in an organization are, as a rule, paid more, it makes sense that elevating more women in business and leadership can help close the pay gap. However, that’s only part of the story. Women in leadership position are better at providing others with fair pay and good benefits, according to a Pew Research survey from 2014. It’s not enough for a few women to make it to the top at the expense of their peers—we need all women to succeed and we want business to thrive at the same time. After all, a rising tide lifts all boats, and having women in leadership will help spur industry on a large scale, which brings us to our third point.
3. Women Are Brilliant Mentors
In the same Pew Research survey referenced above, respondents identified women leaders as being better than men in the areas mentoring and guiding young employees. But this is almost beside the point because, in reality, all people need good mentors to help them progress in their careers and aspirations, regardless of the mentor’s gender. It’s unproductive to argue that women are better mentors—the truth is that we need more mentors overall in order for women to succeed.
Currently, one of the obstacles women face is that men are less likely to mentor women than they are to mentor other men. On the other hand, women are much more likely to mentor other women than they are men. The solution isn’t to have men only mentor men and women only mentor women. That would be insanity. But by having more women in leadership positions, you’re setting them up to be brilliant mentors of the next generation of women leaders. And by encouraging successful men to fill the role of mentor for aspiring women leaders, we get even closer to equality in the workplace. It has to be a team effort, or gender disparities will continue to persist.
How Davinci Is Promoting Women in the Workplace
Our company, Davinci Virtual Office Solutions, is working hard to close the gender-leadership gap. In addition to employing a workforce that’s 90% female professionals, Davinci has pledged its participation in the ElevateHER Challenge, an initiative that seeks to promote women in business, particularly in leadership. Beginning in the Spring of 2018, Davinci joined over 40 Utah-based companies as part of this global movement, which involves taking 7 distinct steps each aimed at elevating women to leadership roles within the company.
For Davinci, promoting women to leadership positions is more than skin deep. For years, Davinci has instituted these three “best practices” and ingrained them into their company values:
- Acknowledge the leadership strengths and contributions of women
- Provide women the educational and training resources necessary for them to succeed
- Give women opportunities to excel within the organization and their careers
Davinci believes in the value of female leadership—in having a diversity of voices in the business discussion—and is proud to be part of a movement to give women the opportunities they deserve.