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Inspire2Aspire | Plugging the Gender Leadership Gap

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

How to see more women growing internally in Middle and Senior Leadership roles?

"One abducted her and the other put her through fire. Ram or Ravana, the names made no difference." ~ Her Story

In a world marked by persistent gender disparities, women continue to face unique challenges in the corporate arena, particularly when it comes to ascending the leadership ladder. One abducted her and the other put her through fire. Ram or Ravana, the names made no difference; these words capture the essence of the trials women face in their pursuit of leadership roles. Despite tremendous strides in the realms of equality and inclusion, the chasm between the number of men and women occupying middle and senior leadership positions remains evident.

The State of Women in Leadership Before delving into the 'Inspire to Aspire' program, it's essential to understand the current state of women in leadership roles. Despite progress in women's empowerment and the increased participation of women in the workforce, several alarming statistics paint a clear picture of the challenges women face:

The stark reality is disconcerting:

Over 48% of women executives exit the corporate sphere between junior and middle management levels, and only a scant few return to rekindle their careers. Furthermore, in India, a mere 17% of women hold senior leadership roles, which pales in comparison to the global average of 29%. Additionally, an alarming 46% of women describe their work as merely a 'means to an end,' while one in ten feels their work falls far short of their potential.

Breaking Down the Numbers As the statistics show, a significant number of women tend to drop out of active careers during the transition from junior to middle levels. This trend is a cause for concern, not just for women but for society as a whole. Does it suggest a potential aspirational deficit among women or a fear of the leadership challenges that lie ahead.

RAISE THE FLOOR

The Gender Stereotype Dilemma One of the underlying issues contributing to this aspirational deficit is the prevalent gender stereotype that has persisted for generations. Women are often pressured to conform to traditional roles and expectations, making it difficult for them to pursue leadership positions with the same ease and confidence as men.

The Confidence Gap Women frequently experience a confidence gap in their careers, which hinders their progression. They may doubt their abilities, hesitate to take on leadership roles, or underestimate their potential contributions to the workplace. This lack of self-belief can hold them back from aspiring to greater heights in their careers.

Balancing Act: Family and Career

Another significant challenge women face is the delicate balance between family and career. The burden of household responsibilities and societal expectations can lead women to prioritize family over career, resulting in missed opportunities for professional growth.


RAISE THE CEILING

Changing the Narrative The first step in inspiring women to aspire is changing the narrative surrounding women in leadership. Women should be encouraged to embrace their unique qualities and lead without feeling the need to be more than men. Leadership should not be defined by gender but by merit and capability.

Role Models and Mentorship Mentorship and the presence of strong female role models are instrumental in inspiring and nurturing women's career aspirations. When women see other women in leadership roles, it not only provides inspiration but also practical guidance on how to navigate the challenges of the corporate world.

Skills Development and Training To bridge the confidence gap, it is essential to provide women with skills development and training opportunities. Investing in leadership development programs specifically designed for women can boost their confidence and equip them with the necessary skills to excel in leadership roles.

Supportive Workplace Policies Organizations play a pivotal role in inspiring women to aspire to leadership positions. Implementing supportive workplace policies, such as flexible working arrangements and family-friendly policies, can alleviate some of the challenges women face when trying to balance work and family life.


The Paradigm Shift: Women Leadership

"I my early days, I was convinced the only path to success in a masculine-dominated corporate culture was to think and behave as a man rather than act authentically as a woman. I was wrong. The women I see succeeding bring their whole self to it," says Barbara Annis, author of 'Leadership & the Sexes.' "They're empowered, and they're driven by their values. The key is really to be authentic & to be in touch with your driving values."


For too long, women have felt compelled to assimilate into a male-dominated corporate world, believing that adopting masculine traits is the only route to success. This mindset must change. Women should not have to strive to be 'more than a man.' Instead, they should take pride in their unique qualities as women leaders. Authenticity is the foundation upon which women can build their leadership journey. It is the key to unlocking their true potential and making a lasting impact.


We Must Raise Both the Ceiling and the Floor!!

"She is not a damsel in distress, the one you need to rescue. She is not just another girl you think you can pursue. She doesn't need your bravery, your muscles, or your charm. She doesn't need a savior, for she is a damsel in shining armor. She is her own hero!"

The call to action is clear. Women are not damsels in distress, waiting to be rescued by external forces. They are their own heroes, capable of leading and making a difference. It is essential to raise both the ceiling and the floor for women in leadership. This means breaking through the glass ceiling that has hindered their progress and ensuring that women at all levels of an organization are empowered to aspire to leadership roles.


Inspire2Aspire Intervention

ProventusHR's 'Inspire2Aspire' program is our quest to see more women growing into middle and senior leadership roles. This initiative is designed to create a leadership culture centered on authenticity, integrity, diversity, and inclusiveness.


The 'Inspire2Aspire' program is not a one-size-fits-all solution but a tailored approach to address executives' current challenges and breakdowns directly. It fosters a sustainable leadership culture and mindset that is conducive to ongoing breakthroughs. By focusing on individual and collective growth, this program inspires women to lead with authenticity and make a significant impact in their organizations.


Lessons from REEL|Life: Erin Brockovich's Story

Women leaders thrive when they are exposed to ProventusHR's unique blend of inspiration. Through the 'REEL|Life' methodology, the program draws insights from the remarkable story of Erin Brockovich. Erin, a single mother and legal assistant, uncovered a major case of environmental pollution that threatened a community's health. Her perseverance and determination led to a landmark settlement for the affected residents.


REEL|Life lets us bring the inspiration from Erin Brockovich's courage, determination, and never-give-up attitude to women executives. This workshop explores the 'Dynamics of Gender and Leadership,' serving as a powerful reminder that one person can make a difference, both for themselves and the community. It highlights the importance of advocating for oneself and the greater good.


A Holistic Approach: Immersive Contextual Learning

ProventusHR's 'Inspire2Aspire' program leverages an immersive contextual approach to facilitate reflection, deliberation, and self-directed discovery. It helps participants relate their learning to their unique work context, ensuring that the lessons they gain are not theoretical but practical and actionable. This approach addresses the challenges women face in a holistic manner, empowering them to overcome barriers and reach their leadership aspirations.


Together We Can

In the corporate world of today, we cannot afford to let the leak of women dropping out of leadership roles persist. It's time to recognize that women have the potential to be exceptional leaders in their own right, leading with authenticity and making a profound impact. It's not about women trying to be more than men or fitting into predefined molds. It's about empowering women to be their authentic selves, to lead with conviction, and to transform organizations and society as a whole. The paradigm shift is underway, and organizations that embrace and champion women leaders will undoubtedly thrive in the future.


The 'Inspire2Aspire' program offered by ProventusHR provides a promising path forward to see more women growing internally in middle and senior leadership roles. Together, we can plug the leak and ensure a brighter and more inclusive future for women in leadership.


REEL|Life | So what's you story...

We, at ProventusHR use ‘REEL|Life – Learning from Movies’ as a methodology since it is 10x more effective than any other (traditional or tech driven learning methodologies). Not to mention, it is a unique learning methodology underleveraged by any Leadership Advisory Firmin the country, for mainstream leadership capability development. The Narrative - most powerful stories ever told, from some of the best storytellers in the world. In our workshops, using Stop-Pause-Debrief method, we encourage everyone to watch the movie for its underlying insights more than for the drama of its plotline.

RK (Rama Krishna) is a Master Coach | Consultant | Facilitator | Curious Human, with three decades of Leadership, Learning & Organisation Development experience, across industries. He is Co-Founder of ProventusHR - A Bespoke Learning & HR Advisory He writes occasionally and can be reached at: http://www.ProventusHR.com https://in.linkedin.com/in/ProventusHR https://www.facebook.com/ProventusHR https://twitter.com/ProventusHR

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