Balance in the boardroom – how can we better support the next generation of female leaders?

Everyone remembers their first manager. Whether it was a good or bad experience, the first person to introduce to the world of work is hugely influential as you start your career. I was lucky enough to have a great one – tough, smart, motivating, with a huge personality. She was also a great role model, a successful, driven female leader at a time when women were scarcely seen in senior management. As I moved through tiers of management to senior management and board level, I found that I was frequently the only woman in the room. Today this picture is slowly changing – Grant Thornton’s Women in Business research found that the proportion of women in senior management is now 32%, an increase of 1% from the previous year.  A diverse board is common sense. Much has been written on the benefits of diversity at c-suite and senior management level – apart from the fresh thinking and innovative approaches that diversity of perspective can bring, a leadership team that reflects the wider employee population is more relatable as well as providing positive role models for those aspiring to rise through the ranks. In all customer-centric industries, we still have some way to go in levelling the playing field. A study in 2018 found that 71% of agents are women and yet, despite the large pool of experienced female talent in our customer focused environment, we’re still not seeing equal representation at the top levels of leadership – so what can we do as leaders to drive a change? Celebrate and showcase success – highlighting the journeys of those who have risen through the ranks show other women in the organisation what’s possible. LinkedIn research in 2022 found that 43% of women said believed they would have achieved greater success if they had had a role model at work.  Create a culture of inclusion – while this is not something that can be created overnight it is a critical step in creating an environment where diversity can thrive. There are a wide range of steps you can take to get started – set the tone from the top, educate the business about the benefits of diversity at all levels of an organisation, provide leadership development programmes that address specific needs, advocate for women leaders and consider unconscious bias training to reduce and eliminate bias in the workplace. Support structures – in addition to ensuring your business has the mechanisms in place to support work/life balance including flexible and part-time working, help to build a support network for your female leaders – encourage allyship by providing opportunities to engage with other leaders and share experiences. I am now the CCO of a forward-thinking business, the passion and enthusiasm ignited in me by my first manager remains as do the lessons she instilled in me, including the value of resilience and recognition. With the universal acceptance of the strength that diversity of perspective brings at the highest levels in organisations, I feel hopeful that we’ll continue to see many more inspirational women across all fields and industries rise to the top of their professions and become positive roles models; continuing to breakdown barriers and level the playing field for those that follow.  #womeninbusiness #callcentre #leadership #customerexperience#womenleadingchange #womenleaders