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The ways women make greater connections in the business world

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Women are still underrepresented in the business world. The imbalance starts at entry-level positions, and in higher-level positions the disparity grows greater, until at the top level of senior executives around 80% are men.

Many women feel that their gender disadvantages them when seeking more senior positions, and those who are in the more senior positons often feel that they get less credit for their work and ideas than their male counterparts. Yet there is no sense that women are any less capable in the senior roles, and some studies suggest that the opposite may be true. Certainly, the companies with more diversity on their boards enjoy a higher return on equity, stronger stock price growth, and a higher operating result.

One reason for this success may be the strength that women show in making connections in the business world.

The importance of connections

It sometimes seems that in an increasingly technological world, personal connections will become a thing of the past, but forecasters disagree, pointing to a shift away from the demand of technical skills to interpersonal skills, with an increased emphasis on teamwork and relationship-building. Although technology increases the ability to communicate at a distance, the role played by in-person meetings and networking remains as strong as ever.

The very fact that technology has allowed companies to become more global and distant is the reason why the personal touch has become so important to enable a company to stand out from its competitors.

How women increase connections

Women tend to be skilled at developing people, recognizing and building on their strengths. They are also better at engaging with them, allowing the skills to be brought to the fore. They are also more likely than male executives to build a more collaborative workplace, allowing the disparate skills to become more connected. These strategic links within an organization allow it to function more cohesively.

Personal skills are a key advantage when problem-solving. When everyone has their own ideas, the ability to manage these is essential for a successful outcome. Women tend to be good listeners and also skilled at encouraging all voices and viewpoints. Not everyone is forceful in putting across their views, but women are more likely to seek out the less confident, ensuring that they hear the views from a wider variety of skill sets. The tendency of women is not to make a decision until all views have been heard and considered.

Women tend to be more skilled in social situations, being better and picking up on the cues demonstrated by tone, expression and gesture. This makes them effective network builders, allowing the creation of relationships of depth and trust. One woman who has demonstrated particular skill in networking is Lady Barbara Judge. Sometimes considered to be the most connected woman in Britain, this US-trained lawyer has never found networking onerous. Instead, she enjoys meeting a wide variety of people and doing things for them. Like many women, she finds knowing a variety of people makes life interesting. Being able to genuinely appreciate connections allows them to grow stronger, and these deeper connections are a key advantage in the business world.

Utilizing the skills

Despite the range of skills that women bring to the business world and particularly their skills in building greater and stronger connections, their role is still underused, despite women becoming increasingly competent as the public face of businesses and growing in numbers when it come to confident public speaking. Many companies are making a greater effort to recruit female talent and to provide opportunities for them to climb the corporate ladder, as they recognize the advantage that a diverse workplace can bring. Most people like to think that gender plays no part in their hiring, but HR data can tell a different story, and if this shows a marked disparity between men and women’s employment rates, then it’s time to take a closer look at the issue.

One issue is the question of parental leave. It is best not to make assumptions on this regarding how likely a woman is to return to work after parental leave or whether she will wish to reduce her hours, as many women will want to return full-time.

Tackling bias in the workplace remains an ongoing issue, and companies committed to diversity need to make sure that they are not merely paying lip service to it, but do allow women the opportunities to show their skills. When filling positions, companies always want the best person for the job. However, if the best person for the job is always a man, then it is time to make sure that unconscious bias is not preventing skilled females from taking up the positions.

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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