It is sad but true: even in today’s business world with its modern economies, and even while developments and trends in technology continue to break boundaries at an exponential rate in the never-ending rush to satisfy so many of our needs; that on a global scale the business sector is still far behind the curve with developing worldwide trends, especially where women are concerned. It is thus that business women in general, and to a large degree those climbing the corporate ladder while working in large corporations, still tend to disappear somewhere during the process and are replaced by men.
This is largely due to the fact that men are often better equipped to manage a senior executive role while juggling their personal and domestic commitments. As a consequence, the fact is that mainly due to societal reasons, this ‘trend’ has pervaded throughout history. However, despite historical influences governing the role of women in business versus domestic responsibilities the scales are now starting to tip in the face of a growing trend towards organisations who ‘get with the programme’ by planting the seeds as it were, and taking an active role in nurturing the crop that will ensure equal opportunity for women in business.
Coming out of the shadows and the establishment of best practice takes practise
Yet, even with the fastest growing seeds of intention and while throwing a great deal of light upon the subject of dealing with very delicate issues surrounding the advancement of women in business, there are still shadows to deal with in the real world of business and one cannot expect an abundant crop to emerge overnight. So it is with companies who have already actively embarked upon dedicated programmes to promote women leaders, yet, are still in the process of bedding down and establishing best practice guidelines in order to reap the harvest of successfully empowered business women of the future – establishing best practice takes practise. So, what exactly are organisations doing to nurture this process to ensure that women are coming out of the shadows as it were?
Formal mentoring programmes for women in business
Organisations are starting to work towards getting more senior leaders to provide mentoring and assistance to talented business women. The establishment of women’s groups that create opportunities for women to network with those who face similar issues; in providing support, guidance and advice to one another are actively being encouraged.
Creating developmental opportunities for women
Organisations are now coming to the realisation that the ranks from which future women VPs and senior executives will be chosen need to be equipped to handle the task. Organisations are working towards this goal through combining greater opportunities for development for women and encouraging senior managers to expand the pipeline of women who are in supervisory, junior and middle management positions to create a stronger talent pool.
Due to the fact that a relatively small number of senior women are present in a large number of organisations, there are also few women role models for aspiring women to pattern themselves after. It therefore stands to reason that companies are starting to increase the influence of senior women in order to increase the movement of more women into senior positions going forward.
Fuelling the women leadership pipeline from within
There is a focus on fuelling the women leadership programme from within. Data suggests that organisations who are actively engaged in incorporating more women into their leadership teams increase the effectiveness of these teams. Studies have also revealed that companies with women board directors show better financial results than those who don’t. Trending data also shows that it is wise to look internally when seeking to fuel the women leadership pipeline instead of headhunting executives from competitors.
Who is ‘getting with the programme’ and what does success look like?
Accenture is currently committed to attracting, retaining and advancing the women who work within the organisation since they realise that in doing so this fosters a high-performance business and supports their broader commitment towards an inclusive and diverse workplace.
Acutely aware of the fact that the success of their more than 150 000 women around the globe is a key element to their overall success, in March 2012, Accenture introduced a new global women’s theme – Defining success. Your way.
Deloitte has a dedicated programme in place, known as the Deloitte Women in Leadership (DWIL) committee, which is focussed on increasing the number of women in leadership positions within the organisation.
The advancement of women in the organisation is 100% supported by the company’s leadership, which includes the CEO and Chairman.
Deloitte aims to attract, develop and retain talented women by hosting selected events and creating a platform for business women in South Africa to connect.
Deloitte is one of the few companies in South Africa that has a dedicated Board position that is allocated to the advancement of women in the organisation.