Supporting female leadership

Female Leadership – Promoting Female Leaders within the Company

(6 min read)

When almost 70% of leadership positions worldwide are held by men who often still live in patriarchal thought patterns and reproduce old leadership ideals, substantially increasing the proportion of women in leadership positions is a challenging goal. How do we nonetheless manage to create a new mindset and recognize that diversity improves leadership?

Female resilience, proven in the most difficult situations over centuries, is now an almost indispensable competence to adequately manage the complexity of the digital age and future challenges. There are already many great female leaders and as the number of inspirational role models grows, so will the number of women in leadership positions. With the term “female leadership”, we point out the urgent need for this positive trend to become even more of our future imperative. Everyone, regardless of generation and the bias that may come with it, should understand and accept the “female leadership imperative” and implement it within the framework of their leadership responsibilities, whereby cultural differences must be taken into account. It is also important for every leader in this process to take a look at themselves first and then start there.

It will certainly not be easy to overcome all the resistance of old mindsets and to break new ground, but the outlook is very promising: “Female leadership” can significantly strengthen not only the competitiveness but also the sustainability and resilience of our company.

 

Status Quo: Hardly Any Women in the Boardroom

Although studies show that companies benefit from having more women than men at the top – visible, for example, in higher retention rates and greater job satisfaction[1] – the current figures on female-occupied leadership positions are sobering: the higher the position, the lower the proportion of women. According to the Grant Thornton report “Women in Business 2021”, 31 percent of women worldwide are registered at the corporate management level, but in the tech industry the figure is only 16 percent, which is far below average.[2]

There are many reasons why women are underrepresented, especially in companies in the technology sector: Already at school and university – not least due to outdated role models – fewer girls and women pursue a career in the STEM subjects (science, technology engineering, mathematics), which has a corresponding effect on their career choice. Women working in tech tend to be paid less than their male counterparts and are confronted with a male-centric work culture, also called “bro culture”, which excludes women and denies them opportunities for advancement. This leads to a high likelihood of leaving the companies in the first years, often even to a complete change of careers.[3]

So, on the one hand, women are much less common in the tech industry than men and even less common in leadership positions. On the other hand, studies show that companies with a high proportion of women are more successful.[4]  But why is that?

 

More Diversity in Management Positions

I think diversity leads to success. I don’t like to talk about a typical woman and a typical man. Women are often said to be very empathetic, sociable, and socially competent. But these are all characteristics that are generally part of leadership competence.
Martina Schraudner, Head of „Responsible Research and Innovation“ at the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft and Professor for „Gender und Diversity in Organizations“ at TU Berlin

Leadership styles are often categorized as female or male. For example, while assertiveness, analytical ability, and risk-taking are leadership qualities with male connotations, empathy, helpfulness, and prudence are assigned to a female leadership style. However, this does not mean that all men lead in a “masculine” way and all women in a “feminine” way. These qualities can apply to men, women as well as other identities.

Team supporting each other For successful management, it is therefore desirable to productively combine different positive leadership qualities: The more diverse a team – be it at management or operational level – the more likely the leadership styles complement each other and compensate for deficits. This also applies to cultural and ethnic diversity, as different perspectives can be brought into the decision-making process and disadvantages can be avoided.

 

Female Leadership for More Equality

The term “female leadership” is intended to draw attention to the fact that there are too few women in leadership positions. If power is distributed more equitably in terms of equality and diversity in companies, not only women but all shareholders benefit from the company’s success. Diversity is therefore not a zero-sum game. Rather, diversity can increase the profit for all in the company by achieving comparative advantage. As a counter-model to the classically male-associated leadership style, “female leadership” is also intended to emphasize the advantages of female leadership characteristics.

However, the use of the term is not without concerns, as there is a quick tendency to equate women in leadership with a female leadership style. The differences between leadership styles should therefore not be based on gender (e.g., men lead aggressively, women empathetically), as such a generalization can reinforce stereotypes, prejudices, and gender injustice – in other words, it would have exactly the opposite effect that “female leadership” is supposed to achieve. Whether “female leadership” refers to leadership qualities with a female connotation or “women in leadership”, the overarching goal must be to promote good leadership in the company that includes not only men but also women.

One day there won’t be female leaders. There will be just leaders.
Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook 

 

Women to the Top! How Female Managers Are Promoted at NTT DATA Business Solutions

One important reason why there are so few women in corporate leadership is that there is often a failure to make jobs attractive to women. That is why at NTT DATA Business Solutions we are committed in line with the Women’s Empowerment Principles to promoting women throughout the company as well as in leadership positions. With our global “Gender Reference Points”, we have set a clear signal for more diversity and for more women in the company. Through leadership workshops, mentoring programs, and networking events, we support our female employees in their career goals and on their individual career paths. We are also working to make leadership positions more appealing, for example through part-time models, fair pay, and a diverse, equal working environment.

All these measures aimed at strengthening and promoting women in our company are having an effect: Currently, the global share of women in our companies is a good 29 percent, with rising tendency. This makes us proud, and we will continue to promote good leadership and positive leadership characteristics in the future – especially among women, but more importantly irrespective of gender.

As a company in the tech industry, it is our responsibility to encourage young women to pursue a career in IT sector. All the female colleagues who are in leading management positions with us today are therefore inspirations and role models for the next generation, proving that women at the top are driving the company to success.

Learn more about how diversity and inclusion are lived at NTT DATA Business Solutions.

Diversity Webpage

 

Sources:
[1] Source: https://whatis.techtarget.com/feature/Women-in-tech-statistics-The-latest-research-and-trends
[2] Source: https://blog.entelo.com/entelo-women-in-tech-report
[3] Source: https://womenintechnetwork.com/retention/
[4] Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/people-and-organizational-performance/our-insights/delivering-through-diversity

Dieter Schoon
Dieter Schoon
Executive Vice President Global People

Dieter Schoon studied psychology and labor law at Bamberg University. He embarked on his professional career in 1992, when he initially joined Gemini Consulting, which was later named Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. He was a human resource and organizational development consultant. In 2000, he became the German Head of Human Resources and Organizational Development as well as marketing with newly established strategy consulting firm Cell Consulting. In 2003, Dieter Schoon accepted an offer in Dresden, where he assisted the senior management of Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) with its human resource and organizational planning of the new microchip plant Fabrik 36. In 2004 he became Director of Human Resource Management with NTT DATA Business Solutions AG in Bielefeld. Since that time Dieter Schoon has been Head of NTT DATA Business Solutions AG‘s HR world-wide and is in charge of its strategic and operational staffing issues. He is married and has six children.

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