Overcoming Barriers to Women in Leadership


Women in Leadership Part 2: Overcoming Barriers

In the first part of this series, we looked at the value women can bring to leadership positions, including impressive qualifications, a diversity of perspectives, and improved workplace culture.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic threatened to increase the workplace gender gap with one in four women contemplating a career slowdown—such as shifting to part-time hours or a less demanding role—or leaving the workforce entirely, according to McKinsey & Company’s annual Women in the Workplace study. A reduction in women in the workforce like this could result in a cascading effect of fewer women in leadership positions in the future.
What can we do to reverse this trend and continue to promote women in leadership? Here are some ideas to get started. 

Overcoming Institutional Bias

Well-established institutions are typically steeped in cultural traditions and mindsets that can be hard to overcome. As part of overcoming unconscious bias, managers can encourage and give women the tools to advocate for themselves. For example, employees looking to advance or take on a new assignment should be encouraged to communicate their goals clearly and proactively, instead of waiting to be asked about it.
Sponsorship has also gained traction as a way to overcome structural barriers to women in leadership. A sponsor can help identify a person who may have been overlooked who is the right fit for a new opportunity and can advocate to give women new breaks.

Changing Individual Mindsets

In some workplaces, office chores unconsciously become divided along gender lines. For example, women are more likely to plan team celebrations or volunteer to take meeting notes. These activities often take up additional time and aren’t frequently recognized for their added value. As a leader, one way to overcome biased mindsets is to objectively assign office chores to ensure gender equality.

Finding Work-Life Balance that, well, Works

Studies show that work-life balance practices increase an employee’s attachment and commitment to an organization—regardless of gender. But for year’s we’ve talked about work-life balance as a women’s issue and a barrier to women in leadership. Effective work-life balance practices, though, have been shown to drive productivity, increase profitability, and boost job retention.
To learn more about how you can overcome barriers to diversity and develop transformational strategies that help your company grow, check out our website or give us a call at 770-693-0241.