Since the late 20th century, it seems like so many things have moved so fast that we’ve forgotten just how recently everything started shifting. Take for example — women in the workplace. Sure, women have worked in some capacity forever. Pre-Industrial Revolution, women were a major player on the family farm. However, the mid-19th century saw the second wave of feminism rolling in, and that meant women were going to work.
It’s easy to imagine those events as far removed from our current moment. But the truth is, it’s been less than 100 years, which in the grand scheme of things is a drop in the bucket of human history. Fast-forward to the present— the pandemic has put women disproportionately out of work, but it also showed that female world leaders have some of the most effective leadership strategies. Yet, we continue to discuss female inclusion in the workplace as some sort of metric towards our DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging) goals.
When gender balance is framed as a women’s issue instead of a business issue, it can easily be sidelined and bypassed in unessential to business performance. This sidelining, whether intentional or not, makes light of the shifts and changes in demographics, market opportunities, and stakeholder expectations.
The Power of Female Leadership
If tides are shifting towards globalization and gender balance being a central component of business strategy (which I argue, they are), that means any companies that are failing to harness this global and female demographic, are missing out on enormous opportunities for expansion, innovation, and addressing female consumer needs and emerging markets globally.
In 2019, the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled, Women Score Higher Than Most Men in Most Leadership Skills. I can’t help but notice a sort of trepidation in the title alone. What the research really seems to show is that women score higher than men in leadership skills. The authors, Jack Zenget and Joseph Folkman, are obviously hoping their indirectness pays off. Heaven forbid they scare readers off before they even get to the main point.