In 2017, only 6.4 per cent of companies on the Fortune 500 list had a female CEO. This figure is significantly higher than previous years, but still far from where it should be, given that woman are just as adept as men at leading companies if not more so.
Here are three reasons why:
(Disclaimer: there are good and bad bosses of all genders. This post will focus on the strengths of female-identifying people in managerial roles.)
They’re better at communication
The very best managers make a real effort to keep open lines of communication with their employees. Polls have shown that people believe their female bosses are better at this, with a study back in 2012 decidedly showing that a majority of employees felt that female managers were more engaged with their employees than their male counterparts, as well as more likely to encourage their professional development.
In the same study, women were also found to dish out praise more often, which as we all know works wonders for improving morale. On top of this, women are more likely to adopt a less traditional managerial approach.
According to some studies, male managers are more likely to be detached and sequestered in a distant corner office, whereas female managers have tended to muck in and touch base far more often. This approach is less stuffy and hierarchical and altogether preferable.
They understand the struggle
The pressure on 21st century women to ‘have it all’ (cue eye roll) is real. If your boss is also a woman, she is more likely to be able to empathise with the challenges faced by women in the workplace, and all the combined pressure of sustaining a healthy work-life balance.
It’s a hard pill to swallow, but in most long-term heterosexual relationships women are, by default, the primary household manager. Even those women whose partners ‘do their fair share’ of household chores often find themselves shouldering the burden of ‘the invisible load’ alongside their professional lives. This means that as well as working a full-time job, the duty of planning, organising, reminding and carrying out administrative household tasks often falls to the woman in the relationship.
It’s no wonder, therefore, that female managers are more likely to be forgiving if you happen to check your phone or personal emails during work hours in order to keep on top of everything.
They’re a source of inspiration and innovation
For young women in particular, it is so important to have role models within your industry. Having an innovative and inspirational figure as your manager or boss is incredibly powerful.
The studies that show that women make more effective leaders make sense when you take into consideration the fact that the women in these top roles will have had to fight twice as hard to get there as their male counterparts. That in itself is aspirational.
Combined with this, women are also more likely to be the CEOs and founders of start-up businesses. This means that of the industry disruptors and innovators coming to the fore at the moment, these young and exciting companies are more likely to be female-lead.
This seems to be an indication of a tide on the cusp of turning – however we shouldn’t rest on our laurels just yet: a Fortune 500 company is still more likely to be led by a man name John than by a woman.
Overall, the evidence overwhelmingly seems to suggest that women are all-around better to work for than men. This list could be a much longer one. But it comes with the caveat that we still have a long way to go before we get to gender equality and equal representation within business.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, since female bosses are shown to encourage more diversity, the more women break through the glass ceiling and get to the top, the easier it is for the rest of us to follow in their footsteps.
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