When Women Lead, Firms Win
When women lead, firms win: S&P Global carried out a study in 2019 and found that:
- Firms with female CFOs were more profitable and generated excess profits of $1.8T over the study horizon.
- Firms with female CEOs and CFOs produced superior stock price performance, compared to the market average. In the 24 months post-appointment, female CEOs saw a 20% increase in stock price momentum. S&P Global stated that these results were economically and statistically significant.
- Firms with a high gender diversity on their board of directors were more profitable and larger than firms with low gender diversity.
- Firms with female CEOs and CFOs have a demonstrated culture of Diversity and Inclusion (D&I), evinced by a larger representation of females on the company’s board of directors.
The business case has been made for gender equality and women in senior leadership roles, however the following is also true:
‘Women are less likely to be given credit for their work, tend to command lower salaries, and are less likely to be promoted, especially to key leadership and C-suite positions.
Due to gender biases in our culture, women often struggle to make their voices heard, avoid getting involved with office politics and shy away from negotiating for the roles and salaries they deserve.
Whilst systemic biases are not women’s problems to solve, they still need to navigate around them to reach their career goals. They can break past these biases and become more effective in the workplace and take more control of their career. Women at Work (HBR)
Clearly, diversity and inclusion policies and programmes are increasingly front and centre of the agenda for organisations. Public companies are facing growing investor pressure to improve diversity among their director ranks, underscoring a greater awareness of the need to address environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues.
The historical model of the leader as hero has been successfully challenged and research tells us that the leadership traits that lead to success in businesses now, are gender neutral, but are organisations doing what it takes to achieve balance and equality within a reasonable timescale?
Our clients tell us that achieving gender balance at senior levels in their organisation is difficult and progress is slow, despite a raft of interventions and investment. One of the problems is that whilst there is a good gender balance at lower and mid-levels, women are opting out as they become more senior and further on in their careers, resulting in a shrinking talent pool further up. This exacerbates the problem as there are not enough role models in senior leadership positions to convince women who are less senior that it is possible and attainable in their organisation.
Whilst our clients want to solve this problem at the organisation-wide level, they know that it also needs to be tackled one woman at a time and that is why we have created a coaching offering that addresses the key issues that women face. Issues that can be worked on and addressed through coaching, with the benefit that the coaching is tailored to each woman’s individual context rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Lead magnet: A document making the business case for gender diversity and investing in women’s development including the research, the data, organisations supporting women in leadership and further reading.
Graham Lee’s Authentic Leadership Model
How Women Rise by Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith
Act like a leader, Think like a leader by Herminia Ibarra
On Women and Leadership – HBR’s 10 Must Reads
Women at Work – HBR Guide
What Works by Iris Bohnet
Own the Room by Jen Su and Maignan Wilkins
How Confidence Works by Ian Robertson
Research and data supporting gender diversity (women in senior leadership):
McKinsey & Company: Diversity wins: How inclusion matters (2020)
International Finance Corporation (IFC): Women in Business Leadership Boost ESG Performance (2019)
International Labour Organisation: The Business Case for Change (2019)
S&P Global study: When Women Lead, Firms Win (2019)
Organisations supporting women in leadership roles:
The Thirty Percent Club
Global Institute for Women’s Leadership
Liz Codd – Chief Coaching Officer Leadenhall ABOUT LIZ
Women in Leadership Program:
Accelerating women along their leadership path
Our programme covers the following key topic areas and is designed for women in, and aspiring to, senior leadership roles:
(Some of these areas apply to all leaders irrespective of gender as they are derived from the requirements of the leadership role.)
- Understanding your experiences as a woman through the course of your career and into leadership, also your organisational context for progression (identifying the obstacles, perceived or otherwise)
- Establishing a unique and authentic leadership identity centred on purpose
- Finding a signature presence, being visible, identifying a source of courage, showing passion yet assertively claiming accomplishments
- Being visionary, demonstrating credibility, and communicating with impact and influence
- Taking more risks with assignments/jobs/career moves and identifying people who will support you as you take on bigger or different challenges, understanding feedback through the support of other women in leadership positions, etc.
- Negotiating for yourself: job offers/salaries, asking for opportunities, letting go of old roles, setting boundaries to protect the focus on key priorities
- Asserting yourself and navigating difficult situations: from dealing with interruptions and aggression; managing and embracing constructive conflict; to tackling situations such as discrimination, harassment or sexism, etc.
- Building a broad network of supporters, sponsors and mentors (reverse mentoring), senior relationships
- Antidotes to impostor phenomenon – remaining confident under pressure, dealing with the inner dialogue and inner critic, maintaining self-belief, understanding your strengths and valuing yourself
- Managing the environment in which you work and managing a broad set of stakeholders
- Dealing with the double bind – likeability and warmth vs competence
- Building a network of supportive women who amplify one another, collaborate rather than compete with each other
- Managing an integrated life across family, friends, work, finances, community, wellbeing, hobbies, etc.
This programme can be delivered in a number of formats, such as:
- A 1:1 coaching assignment, typically a minimum of six 90-minute sessions over a six-to-nine-month period.
- Group coaching: bringing together a small group of women who are coached together. This provides the platform for women to support women, to develop ally-ship and can evolve into a self-organising group.
- Coaching-led workshops: virtual or in-person workshops covering the key topics.
- These formats can also be blended. For example, a series of workshops enhanced with 1:1 or group coaching.
For more information about this or any of our other special programs don’t hesitate to drop us a line.