By Natasha Oothuizen, National Sales Director at Pinnacle ICT.
Although significant progress has been made in the past few years, it is clear that women will continue to make strikes in cementing a balance of representation within the ICT industry, with an abundance of research supporting the theory that businesses are more profitable when they have more women in the C-suite.
When women become leaders, they contribute a prismatic set of skills demonstrating passion, enthusiasm and a capability to take command of a situation, where necessary.
Women can make bold and wise decisions as leaders and can use their skills to make the team environment less authoritative and more cooperative, bringing a family-like feel to the unit. This boosts teamwork across the organisation and helps implement a new culture within the business.
From a leadership point of view, women tend to bring a softer, more collaborative approach to real-life work issues. They are more prepared to listen to all sides and are thus better at finding the middle ground in any given situation.
It is important when bringing new employees from different generations on board to ensure they are made to feel like members of the team. Women are brilliant with the kind of empathy required to ensure buy-in and to provide these people with a clear understanding of their role in achieving company objectives.
In fact, a meta-analysis, comparing male and female leaders, identified that female leaders were more transformational. The analysis indicated that women tend to demonstrate more contingent reward behaviour than the two-dimensional actions - active and passive management - usually presented by male leadership.
Communication is known to be one of a woman's strongest skills. Woman leaders will utilise this power to enhance meaningful conversations with employers, co-workers and partners, thus creating an open communication stream that delivers a sense of clarity and empathy.
While there is a perception that women are more emotional and less decisive than men, the fact is that women bring a more diverse physical, mental and emotional experience to everyday conversations.
Women definitely bring a lot to the management role, as we are used to wearing multiple hats while undertaking what are essentially two different full-time jobs - namely as a business leader and as a primary caregiver. Remember too that in the family, the mother is usually the mediator and the peacemaker, a role which also segues into managing people within the organisation.
Women are more empathetic at taking on the emotional burden from others, while still providing leadership. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise to learn that the ability to balance a career with the additional stress of raising a family, while also taking up the mantle of guidance, demonstrates how women are well-positioned to deliver quality leadership.
Nonetheless, women still need guidance and support, which is why mentoring is so important. I know from experience that demands on women managers are often massive and that they can struggle to strike a proper work-life balance. Under such circumstances, it clearly helps to have a role model you can learn from.
“Generally, women tend to put in double the effort of their male counterparts to demonstrate their ability to achieve any level of seniority. Understanding this, Pinnacle encourages its staff to excel and identifies those women with the relevant strengths to help improve the business, in order to promote them.”
“Ultimately, diversification is not about placing women ahead of men, but rather about equality, seeing the value of individuals and understanding how, collectively, they can work together for the greater good of the organisation. While there remains quite a journey for most companies, I believe Pinnacle is doing well - we have nearly equal women representation throughout the business, with figures of 42.2%,” she notes.
Of course, diversity in the workplace should not merely prioritise women, but should seek instead to have a fluid combination of both genders throughout the organisation, she suggests. This is because workplace gender diversity helps improve productivity, creativity, performance, staff retention and boosts collaboration throughout the business.
That said, we must never underestimate the impact of those women who are currently smashing their role as leaders in the workplace. Not only are they helping the company to achieve its gender and diversity goals, while bringing new thoughts, angles and strategies to the table, but they also set a good example for those who follow. For women just entering the workforce, having a role-model that can serve as an inspiration to them as newcomers in the field is something that is more critical than ever.