IWD-Choose to Challenge

Why the workplace needs more women

Glancing over the corporate profile i placed on my centre table, my curious niece probes, Aunty, why are there only men in this picture? It was the board profiles of one of the top organisations in Nigeria that had caught her attention.

Female lawyers in Nigeria still face barriers to enter the legal profession and take up leadership positions in law firms or to rung up the corporate ladder. A research in 2016 highlights that out of 451 on the Roll of Senior Advocates, only 17 were women . In corporate organisations, leadership positions are principally male dominated and reserved for technical functions which pose constraints for lawyers even so female ones.

Conscious in my nine year old niece’s mind was that something was out of place and she was right, women were missing in action!. Women deserve a seat at the table, actually seats and we are delighted that diversity and inclusion are finally taking centre stage . For those that still doubt its importance, here are four reasons work spaces need women in leadership positions .

1.High performance: Studies show that women led Fortune 1000 companies outperform companies that have the least number of women on its board. Women are believed to possess the mission mindset that enables high productivity. For example, the World Food Program estimates that women produce between 60% and 80% of the food required by developing countries.

2. A Diverse Workforce: An estimated 50% of the world’s population are women, denying this half the opportunity to proffer creative solutions shortchanges any environment from enjoying the benefits they have to offer. With the complexities that comes with such a dynamic world, organisations that do not prioritise diversity and inclusion will be at a competitive disadvantage in the future.

3.Effective Organisational Culture : The Journal of Organisational Behaviour in its 2015 research published that companies that are highly represented by women are more collaborative, communicative and open to learning. Most women have soft skills that are likely to influence a positive, transparent and value based culture. Effective communication and developmental support are also supplemental to the success of businesses, employee retention and job satisfaction.

4. Work Life Balance: The multiple roles many women take up as mothers, wives, carers keep them in constant check about the importance of ‘life outside the office walls’, forcing workplaces to adapt to flexible and remote ways of working. This has a dual pronged effect of shaping policies and minimising burnout environments.After all we all need breaks!

Competence should always precede any selection based criteria and we do not advocate for leadership positions where meritocracy isn’t the defining factor, nevertheless women must be given the platform to ditch their feet and fly . The cue is creating challenging opportunities yet making them obtainable.

8th of March is International Women’s Day and the theme for this year is #choosetochallenge. This year we choose to challenge inequality, harmful narratives, cultural bias, assumptions and stereotypes. What are you #choosing tochallenge today and always?

Career resource, Development