Why should we support women’s leadership? The answer is quite simple: because more women in leadership positions strengthen and increase the growth of companies and organizations. Evidence indicates that more women in the workplace, including directive boards, benefit group dynamics and give more diversity to decision-making processes. The outcome are more productive companies and organizations, with better risk management, more innovation and ability to retain talent.
Female leaders that look like me
If there´s anything I learned in my professional career, it’s that leadership comes in all shapes and colors, and is important in all areas and levels. We still need more leadership that reflects women in all their diversity.
Before becoming Chief of Gender and Diversity at IDB Invest, my career started in the private sector, in Human Resources, in diversity and inclusion and talent recruitment. I have been lucky enough to work all over the world, and even so, I still haven’t seen enough female leaders, especially women of color. I would have loved to have more women that looked like me as a role model, and I know that many share this feeling.
The effects of good leadership in the workplace
A long-term benefit of having more female leaders is giving the next generation positive role models to follow. Having more women in visible directive positions has the power to shape the expectations and goals of the women of tomorrow. Not only that: good leaders also can transmit lessons and abilities to their teams.
From my personal experience, one of the most important lessons I learned from one of my leaders is to trust your team. Also, to support and push people beyond their limits, and give them the recognition they deserve for their hard work. But most important of all, I learned you need to be generous and share your knowledge and expertise, because when the people you work with grow, you grow as well. These are traits that I admire and try to incorporate into the leader I am today.
Another effect that more female leaders create is the generation of more quality employment for women. A study by the IDB, IDB Invest, and the INTAL indicates that when a woman is a main director, the hiring of women in organizations increases by 22%. This means that when a woman becomes a leader, the labor force becomes more equitable.
The road that lies ahead
Despite the huge benefits that female leadership brings to companies and organizations, there is still a lot of it missing in our region. Only 19% of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean have a woman in their directive board, and only an 11% has a woman as a main director. These numbers replicate in the public sector, where women occupy only 25,4% of the seats in congresses, 12% of mayor offices, 27% of town councilors and 29% of superior courthouses.
The challenges women face to reach leadership positions depend mostly on sociocultural factors, a lot of them already present in in organizational cultures. It is important to highlight that the lack of female leadership at all levels is a systemic problem. This means that any person that holds power inside of an organization has the responsibility to play a part in this transformation.
Leading, as any other skill, is something that can be learned and motivated. Allowing access to knowledge and tools can be a key factor in assuring that women count with the necessary resources to do so. Leadership doesn’t only mean reaching high management positions, and this may not be the final goal of many women. But leadership skills can be useful and generate change in all levels.
Join the transformation
At the IDB Group, a key part of the Vision 2025 is guaranteeing the same economic opportunities for all men and women of our region. We know that if women progress, our companies grow, and our region moves forward. Without gender equity, an economic recovery of Latin America and the Caribbean is impossible.
How are you supporting female leadership in your organization? Do you also think we still need more female leaders? Share your opinion with us in the comments!