BUILDING A PIPELINE FOR FEMALE LEADERSHIP
Written on the 12 October 2015
MORE must be done by individuals and companies to nurture female leadership the world over, according to LeadershipHQ CEO Sonia McDonald.
McDonald believes that the current efforts put in place in various industries by way of quotas and similar methods are not hitting the mark.
"We need to do so much more in order to bring about change from the ground up," she says.
"We should be focusing on women early in their careers and helping them understand their own potential.
"We need to give them the ability to release any inhibitors which may inevitably stop them from undertaking leadership positions in the future."
McDonald says initiatives like the one implemented by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard to increase the numbers of women on government boards to 40 per cent are positive, but more needs to be done to see tangible results.
"It is no longer about surviving in a male dominated industry; the focus needs to be on thriving so that everyone benefits from a more balanced working environment," she says.
"75 per cent of leaders within the Department of Education are currently women, which is a great achievement, but when compared to the 21 per cent in the Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence departments, an imbalance clearly remains."
She cites the UK as an exemplary case study, which, as of this year, contains no all-male FTSE 100 boards.
"They have been working steadily over the past four years to increase the numbers and results show that they have nearly doubled the number of women board directors on the FTSE 350 boards, which is a great accomplishment for a country so heavily steeped in tradition," she says.
"But many companies are still not getting it.
"It is not just a simple case of finding suitable women and putting them to work. What businesses and industries need to understand is that support, sponsorship, mentors and training are a big part of the pipeline process. That is the only way we can implement long term benefits."
Since 2008, McDonald has been working with specific industries to help develop leadership strategies and diversification. She says LeadershipHQ's empowHER initiative, a program designed to help women recognise their innate abilities as leaders, is an important tool in the process.
"The empowHER program helps women to achieve the confidence, clarity, understanding, enthusiasm, self-awareness and determination they need to tackle leadership roles. It empowers women to realise their own potential, something which many industries fail to provide to emerging female leaders," she says.
"The pipeline for female leadership needs to start as early as possible within their careers. With much nurture and guidance, we can ensure that more and more strong female leaders will emerge."