The ‘glass ceiling’ has a limiting effect on the ability of women to grow into positions of substantial leadership in any industry and gender equality at senior levels, an area of significant concern, has yet to be achieved across most industries. There are exceptions, but they are few.
Some figures supporting the existence of gender inequality are featured throughout this article, but I believe, having worked with and coached women at all levels over 25 years, that a significant area for improvement for women in business is learning how to communicate assertively and confidently in everything they do.
Women in leadership – the competitive advantage
According to Forbes Magazine; the outcome of one of the most comprehensive worldwide surveys (conducted by Pittsburgh-based human resources consulting firm DDI) indicates that companies that perform best financially have the greatest number of women in leadership roles. In the top 20% of high performing companies financially, 27% of leaders are women. Among the bottom 20% of financial performers, only 19% of leaders are women.
Women leaders in Australia
Statistics indicate that women are under-represented in leadership positions in all sectors of the paid workforce, with an example being that women held 35.3% of Government Board Appointments, as at June 30 2011. In legal fields the percentage is even less, and whilst 61.4% of all law graduates are females, women hold only about 22% of the most senior positions in law firms. In the Federal Court of Australia, women make up on 16% of the bench.
The statistics in corporate Australia are more concerning, indicating that only 8.4% of Board Directorships are held by women. Of greater concern is that the number of women directors has increased only .2% since 2002. (Source: The EOWA 2010 Australian Census)
What stops Women?
There are various areas in which women appear to feel less confident or assertive as their male counterparts. One specific area is communication, where often the lack of assertiveness and confidence are often blatantly absent.
Tips to Communicate Assertively
Caryn Walsh is at the helm of Pure Magic International Business Solutions. They develop leaders, people and teams in Organisations in Australia and internationally. Pure Magic trains and coach’s leaders and builds teams to become high performing. They run leadership programs, workshops and leadership Retreats and offer a range of leadership training and team building training programs and conference speaking.