Achieving smooth success at a C-Suite level is already a feat riddled with tests for any individual; employees entering the top echelons of their companies face increased responsibilities, higher stakes and thorough accountability. For women, they can arguably be met with their own unique set of hurdles along with these initial challenges.
Workplace gender equality has definitely played a greater role in cultural dialogue but society sometimes still implements sexist obstacles, whether unconsciously or otherwise by leadership teams. These discussions have put into spotlight how the C-suite is under-inhabited by women.
Whilst the unfortunate reality might mean women have to brace themselves for certain disparities in workplace equality, hiring managers are facing added pressure to make sure that female leaders are better accommodated at senior levels.
Here are some challenges that women in the C-Suite face and how leadership management can help:
When some women achieve high-seniority roles, they will sometimes understand that they may be the only ones amongst a group of men. In male-dominated leadership teams, women risk feeling token and can feel like there will be no one to confide in when it comes to their personal concerns.
The challenges of having no other female representation run deep. McKinsey reporting found that when there is only one female C-Suite member, that woman is 49% more likely to have their judgement questioned by men, 35% more likely to be mistaken for a junior employee and 24% to be at the receiving end of microaggressions and unprofessional comments.
Employers can address these concerns by first establishing a leadership team consisting of empathetic individuals who have modern mindsets and understand what it means to be in the new world of work. Secondly, having an accessible HR department can allow for women with specific concerns to address them without feeling vulnerable.
For women who struggle being assertive in male-dominated environments, employers can make the extra step to organise one-on-one sessions to temper any feelings of insecurity or even offer them training tailored to their apprehensions, such as public speaking. Generally speaking, making anyone feel welcome and understood, regardless of gender, will help grow their confidence in a new role.
Although a massive career achievement, accepting C-Suite responsibility is also a big commitment that can impact the free time an individual has. For women with families, the inflexible demands of a C-Suite role can have a damaging impact on their work/life balance. Recognising the day-to-day realities of working mothers is essential to not only keeping women in senior roles, but also avoiding discouraging those from aiming for the C-suite.
It is in situations like these when clear flexible working agreements have to be put in place. Whether it is in the form of additional leave during school holidays, remote working schedules or the implementation of childcare plans, such flexibility will allow working parents to not feel intimidated by entering C-Suite roles.