Much of my career has been spent writing and speaking to the value of creating a strong, highly functioning internal culture. It should be implicit in building that strong culture that it be one that is inclusive and supportive.
Recent research is showing that in addition to a highly functioning environment, women leaders—and future women leaders—are looking for some specific aspects of organizational culture. With all that is happening in today’s workforce, including the vast array of opportunities available to candidates, it serves organizations well to explore all options to offer a workplace that is not only attractive to candidates but also has inclusive and supportive ethos that retains top talent.
Along with the baseline understanding that it is fundamentally the right thing to do, there are additional benefits to creating a culture that is supportive of women leaders. Studies conducted by the Center for Creative Leadership show that having a higher percentage of women in the workplace typically results in all employees expressing higher job satisfaction, more organizational dedication, more meaningful work, and less burnout.
When an organization authentically values a strong, diverse, and supportive organizational culture, it is reflected in leadership, policies, procedures, and the overall atmosphere of the work environment. In order to create a highly functioning culture that actively supports women in leadership you will want to examine the following.
Does your organization:
•Teach employees about diversity, conflict, and bias?
•Actively listen to career goals and aspirations?
•Work to create and maintain an inclusive culture?
•Set and measure goals related to diversity and inclusion?
•Facilitate opportunities for women leaders to support and mentor other women?
•Support ongoing employee growth and development?
Additional research on this topic cites multiple trends regarding the future of women in leadership. Those trends were cited by women in top leadership roles and may help shape direction and strategy in and around building and maintaining a culture that supports women leaders.
The way we train future leaders will change.
“Currently, women are trained to reach leadership positions the way men reach leadership positions—through competition for power. However, as more employees and organizations are shifting toward more purpose-driven, people-centered business models (thanks to COVID), I believe the construct of leadership will change,” says Ashley Levesque, vice president of marketing at Bonzai. “Instead of fighting for power, leaders will advocate for purpose, which is where women excel. Instead of the future leaders being trained to emulate men, they will be trained to emulate women.”
Women will create the type of companies they want to work for.
Lindsay Tjepkema, CEO and co-founder of Casted, says, the shared experience we have all lived through over the last couple of years has encouraged us all to think about what we really want in our lives and in our careers.
“Women especially are emboldened more now than ever to be the change they wish to see in their own lives and for the world we live in,” Tjepkema says. “I believe in the year ahead, we will see more women make the moves from their current roles and careers they’ve built to take on entrepreneurship.”
Mentorship will play a larger role in career development for women.
Brittany Hendricks, head of marketing at Together Platform, says there is abundant evidence that women want formal mentorship, are willing to mentor other women, and benefit greatly from having a mentor at work. Additionally, over the past year, companies are increasingly struggling to retain talent and prevent burnout, a problem even more pronounced with women in the workforce who have disproportionately had to shoulder the burden of the pandemic.
“In 2022, I believe mentorship for women will—and should—be a big focus for organizations,” Hendricks says. “Companies see that their women employees need mentorship, and starting a formal program will lead to more engaged and productive employees. As a leader at Together mentorship software, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits mentorship can have within dozens of leading organizations.”
Remote work will open new doors for women returning to work. In 2022, more women will be able to enter—and reenter the workforce—thanks to the embracing of remote work across industries. Remote work allows women who are caretakers, coming back from pregnancy or illness, or entering a new field, to thrive in business no matter where they’re located.
With more women ready to participate in leadership roles, companies will benefit from diverse viewpoints and experiences that will help move their businesses forward. It’s critical for every company to have diverse leadership.
There is much to be gained from spending some time cultivating a diverse, inclusive, fully engaged, highly functioning team environment. All aspects of organizational culture should be evaluated regularly, improved with impactful training, and consistently modeled as part of the organization’s philosophy. By investing in growing a strong, supportive culture, you are leveraging the strengths women leaders bring and demonstrating to all employees that they are valued.
René Johnston of Spokane, owns Employee Engagement Solutions, a consulting and employee-engagement training company.
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