What's holding women back from the very top job?

Organisations will be more profitable, more engaged, and more productive when the most important decisions are made by an equal proportion of men and women. This is the driver behind the work that my business does with CEOs, leadership teams, and high-potential women—and the data backs us up.

Extensive global research shows that organisations with the highest proportion of women on their boards significantly outperform others in return on sales, return on invested capital, and return on equity. Organisations with the highest percentage of women in leadership roles boast significantly higher stock values, profits, innovation, and market value. Moreover, the greater the percentage of women at executive level, the more an organisation increases its likelihood of financial success.

The greater the percentage of women at executive level, the more an organisation increases its likelihood of financial success.

Yet despite the obvious and significant benefits of promoting more women into leadership roles, many organisations are losing their high-potential women in droves. Most of our organisational clients boast an impressively leaky talent pipeline. Typically, 80 per cent of women in entry-level roles slip down to fewer than 20 per cent of women at executive level.

This leads to frustration. A female executive from a major bank recently said to me, “I’ve been attending womens leadership breakfasts for 20 years, and nothing has changed. I feel like we’re banging our heads against the ultimate brick wall.”

So how do we get more women at the very top? And, importantly, how do we get more women at the very top who thrive, who achieve results from a place of great enjoyment, authenticity, and balance?

The answer, as you would expect, is complex and multilayered. If there were a silver bullet to solving gender diversity issues, the ASX 200 would currently be led by 50 per cent women, not 4.8 per cent. In my experience, organisations and leaders gain the greatest benefit by implementing the following three practices first.

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