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How to empower and inspire the next generation of women

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When it comes to equality in the workplace, we still have a very long way to go. “The Women’s Leadership Gap” report shows that women constitute a majority of the U.S. population, 50.8 per cent to be exact. Women earn more than 57 per cent of undergraduate degrees and 59 per cent of all master’s degrees; they make 48.5 per cent of all law degrees and 47.5 per cent of all medical degrees. Women also earn 38 per cent of Master of Business Administration and other generalist degrees and 49 per cent of specialized master’s degrees, and they account for 47 per cent of the U.S. labour force and 52.5 per cent of the college-educated workforce. However, despite this, in the legal profession, 45 per cent of associates are women, but only 22.7 per cent of partners and 19 per cent of equity partners In medicine, women represent 40 per cent of all physicians and surgeons, but only 16 per cent of permanent medical school deans. Looking at academia, the figures are impressive as women have earned the majority of doctorates for eight consecutive years. However, they represent only 32 per cent of full professors and 30 per cent of college presidents. In the financial services industry, women constitute 61 per cent of accountants and auditors, 53 per cent of financial managers, and 37 per cent of financial analysts, but only 12.5 per cent of chief financial officers in Fortune 500 companies are women.

All too often, gender stereotypes are still placed on professions, talents and abilities. People will say things like “That’s a man’s job,” or “that’s a women’s job” which is harmful to the future generations, and more importantly, it isn’t true.

It is now a women’s job to take control of this and to teach and empower the next generations so that this way of thinking and the inequality does not exist for them. But how can you do that?

Normalize it

The stereotypes and bias surrounding women in specific industries or leadership roles need to be broken down. We aren’t born with prejudice; it is a learned behaviour which means it can be changed. If you tell a girl they can’t do something they will believe it, tell them they can, and they will believe that too. It’s important to inspire the next generation of women by telling them they can and by encouraging them in whatever it is they want to do. Women also need to know the value they bring as there’s so much to be said for the diversity and perspective they bring. Companies make better products and better decisions if they have diversity.

Support other women

As mentioned, it is your job as women to support other women. It’s important to talk about women in all industries and roles, support each other and intentionally inspire others. Leading by example is powerful, but why not take it a step further and actively seek out opportunities to mentor the next generation. Keep supporting each other to reach for the stars, and don’t forget what has already been achieved by so many great women, so it’s important to show girls that we are already here and paving the way.

Take time to develop female talent

To fill the pipeline toward senior leadership and to encourage more professional development, it starts with the hiring, onboarding and training practices. According to CareerBuilder, 36 per cent of U.S. employers lack a structured onboarding process for new hires. When you employ anyone at your company, you should funnel them through a well-set-up system designed for ongoing training, mentorship and development. As well or as part of this, you could pair employees with mentors or sponsors who they will meet with regularly to discuss career trajectory and answer any questions they have. This not only connects employees to ongoing professional development resources and opportunities, but it allows them the time away from their desks to take advantage of those opportunities.

Talk about it early and often

While women have made an awful lot of progress when it comes to equal pay and representation, there is still an awful lot of work to be done, and girls still need to be encouraged to work in whatever industry they want and to become leaders if that’s what they want. We need to continue to support girls and talk to them about this. And we need to do it early, and we need to do it often. It starts when girls are in school and then as they continue their education, they need to be armed with the tools they need to help them get to where they want to be – whether it’s books, SMARTY Student SIM deals or the opportunity to talk about their health, they need to know that help and support is there from the start. It’s essential as well to let the future generations know about the fantastic work that has been done before them and to let them know that they are not only capable but needed. The more positive female examples we share, the more normal it will become. Let’s talk about this early, and often with the next generation of women.

Empower women to problem-solve

If businesses can successfully hire, onboard, train, develop and retain talented women, this is a great first step. However, there will need more to be done to encourage senior leadership opportunities. It is likely that this will mean that other people in the company need to be made aware and taught to ask women for their opinions and input. These are the kinds of steps that will truly empower women to reach their full potential as leaders.

Lead by example

When it comes to leadership, this is up to you to show how it’s done. You cannot lead others if you cannot lead yourself and because if that you need to be your own leader, don’t try and fill in someone else’s shoes and do as they do, be yourself, the person you are and lead that way. Show the other women who you are leading that it’s okay to be yourself and they will follow suit, and even if they have different leadership styles when they eventually reach those roles, they’ll bring something else to the table because they’ll have the courage and confidence to be themselves.

Embrace your feminine energy

In the past, women have been encouraged to emulate masculine leadership qualities in order to climb the career ladder. However, when women ignore this advice and step into their true identities and are themselves with openness, transparency, owning their emotions and being clear about their values, their vulnerabilities and their fears, modern audiences embrace the humanness when it comes to leading.

About Business Woman Media

Our women don’t want to settle for anything but the best. They understand that success is a journey involving personal growth, savvy optimism and the tenacity to be the best. We believe in pragmatism, having fun, hard-work and sharing inspiration. LinkedIn

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