Confident Leader

How promoting women boosts morale about the Future

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New research suggests that workers are most likely optimistic about the future.

That finding, however, isn’t equally true for men and women. According to a new report, women tend to be more worried or neutral about their future career outlook than men.

The data suggests that workers who hold management or leadership roles tend to have a sunnier outlook about the future – and organizations that don’t equally promote men and women limit women’s earnings and career potential, causing them to feel greater anxiety about their future careers.

Pew Research Center forecasts that although women may never make up fully half the workforce, they will come close. By 2025, researchers predict 47.1% of the workforce will be women.

In other words, companies may find that nearly half their workers are measurably more worried about the future than others – and if they don’t take steps to solve this problem, they might be failing their employees.

If you realize that you can count the number of women in leadership roles at your company on one hand, you can use this article to make a case for why your organization should make it easier for women to rise to leadership roles. 

Opportunities begin during performance reviews

Companies looking to develop more female leaders should examine not only their hiring and advancement processes, but also their feedback and performance review processes.

A Harvard Business Review study found that men and women tend to be described differently by their managers. Overall, women had fewer positive words associated with their performance, while men had a far greater variety of positive words associated with their performance reviews.

If your company has no oversight processes in place for employee reviews, it’s time to start putting them in place. You may discover that a male colleague who’s prone to pushy behavior is described as “proactive,” while a female colleague who is opinionated or outspoken is described as “temperamental” or “opportunistic.”

Although most managers aren’t intentionally sexist when evaluating their employees, this type of subtle bias can chip away at women’s confidence and erode their opportunities for career advancement.

Performance reviews represent the first steps employees can take toward improving their performance or making a strong case for a promotion. Businesses that care about gender diversity must first ensure that employees are being evaluated fairly. 

Promoting men and women equally boosts morale

There are a number of reasons why morale may suffer, but one major cause is a lack of upward mobility within the organization.

As Travis Bradberry writes on Inc., “If you’re looking for your next career opportunity, and your boss is unwilling to let you move up the ladder, your enthusiasm is bound to wane. Taking away opportunities for advancement is a serious morale killer.”

When women don’t see other women in leadership roles, they may internalize the message that a company doesn’t believe women are capable of leading. And it’s reasonable for women to make this conclusion – after all, men are still more likely to be viewed as leaders compared to women, according to research at the University of Buffalo.

It’s a manager’s job to empower talented employees to continue learning and growing in their careers, regardless of gender. When that doesn’t happen, it can affect not only employees’ morale, but the company’s bottom line.

According to a 2017 Gallup poll, “Engaged employees are more present and productive; they are more attuned to the needs of customers; and they are more observant of processes, standards and systems.”

Businesses with engaged workforces had higher production, fewer employee absences, and lower turnover. When taken together, the behaviors of engaged employees added up to 21% greater profitability.

The takeaway? Organizations that equally include women in leadership roles can achieve higher employee satisfaction and stronger morale. This has the potential to reduce turnover, boost productivity, and improve the overall quality of work employees produce. 

Businesses that promote women tend to be more profitable

Research also shows that businesses which embrace gender equality in leadership will be more competitive in the future.

According to Business Insider, there’s a correlation between company performance and women in leadership. In general, companies that prioritize diversity tend to outperform their competition, possibly due to the fact that diversity includes more perspectives that can lead to fresh insights, solutions, and connections.

As the MSCI study “Women on Boards” found, companies with strong female leadership were more profitable than those without gender diversity.

A token female leader won’t suffice — in order for profits to rise, the study suggested “at least three women are needed for their voices to be heard and for the dynamics of the board to change ‘substantially.’”

Although this study and others support the connection between profits and diversity, change is happening slowly. At the current rate, it’s estimated that boards will reach 30% female leadership by 2027.

Although this change might seem slow, some companies will achieve gender equality on their boards and in leadership roles more quickly. Companies that don’t promote men and women equally will risk leaving money on the table and falling behind these progressive competitors. 

Offering equal opportunities leads to equal optimism

It’s hard to run a successful business when half of your employees don’t see a path toward future advancement.

Businesses that prioritize gender equality benefit from the morale boost that comes from offering men and women equal opportunities for advancement.

Building an equitable environment begins with ensuring that employees are evaluated fairly and ends when men and women are equally represented in leadership roles.

As more companies adjust their strategies to create a more diverse workforce, those that fail to provide equal opportunities risk their profits, their stability, and their future.

About Michelle Delgado

Michelle Delgado is a content developer and marketer at Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews firm based in Washington DC. She covers recruiting and human resources

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