Embrace a ‘Systems Perspective’ to Move the Needle on Women’s Leadership
In the past two years, women across the world have experienced unprecedented job loss, both voluntary and involuntary, due to the pandemic and its aftermath. As a result, this “she-cession” has shined a spotlight on the many untenable systemic imbalances that greatly affect women. Now more than ever, there’s an opportunity to reconsider assumptions and expectations — both inside and outside of work — to start turning back the tide.
When organizations attempt to rebalance the gender gap in the workplace, their first choice is often to offer women’s leadership programs. While these programs do have a place in leadership development, they often take a “fix the female” approach — that is, they train women to “fit” into a system designed for (mostly white) men.
In contrast, to make real, positive and sustainable change, researchers at the Center for Creative Leadership believe organizations must address gender gaps from a systems perspective and change policies and practices that disadvantage women. Organizations must rethink the concepts and values associated with leadership and work to bring systems into alignment. While change isn’t a simple undertaking, it can be achieved over time by starting with these steps:
- Avoid treating women as a one-size-fits-all group
- Consider the context
- Drop the “work wife” expectation
- Acknowledge how home imbalances influence work imbalances
- Bring men into the equation
- Rethink the traditional leadership paradigm
- Drive change from the top