Despite the enormous and ongoing gender leadership gaps in the corporate world, there are encouraging developments that have been noted in many companies regarding women leadership in c-suite levels of management. A key point of reference in this changing sphere shows that women are advancing more in corporate leadership roles, particularly in the C-suite compared to men in recent years. The adage “What a man can do, a woman can do better” has become prevalent in our largely patriarchal communities in an effort to impose the takeover of a long-standing status quo. According to the most recent CMI research, men are 40% more likely than women to be promoted into management positions.

women leadership in c-suite
Data on women leadership in c-suite at the management level.

With many companies spearheading the change of the disparity of numbers in men versus women leadership in c-suite management level narrative, CNBC reports that the percentage of female CEOs more than doubled from just under 2% in 2010 to more than 5.5% in 2021. Contrarily, only a 47%, 41%, and 56% increase, respectively, in the proportion of women holding the positions of chief financial officer, treasurer, and vice president of finance.

Additionally, only 15% of executive officer positions and 19% of board seats at Fortune 500 corporations are held by women, and even then they  are reported to serve on boards for shorter periods of time than their male counterparts. In terms of pay, female entry-level employees make 20% less than their male colleagues according to the Chartered Management Institute.

The data below from coachhub shows the percentage of women leadership in c-suite, that is, women who have taken positions in senior leadership over the past few years. 

Data by Coachhub on women leadership per region.

Clearly, there is a need for an immediate and sustained boost in the number of qualified and deserving women to take up more c-suite leadership roles. But with a deeply rooted patriarchal perspective of leadership, how exactly can companies implement this change, creating a precedent for women leadership in c-suite levels of management? Here are the 3 actionable strategies organizations can use to accelerate women leadership in c-suite positions:

  1. Executive commitment
    Executive commitment refers to an intentional willingness by the top management within a company to champion a particular cause. In a bid to create room for more women in the executive leadership, there is definitely a need for companies to make deliberate commitments to put more women in executive leadership positions within the company.
    According to research, companies with more women in leadership positions, among other benefits, are more prosperous, more socially responsible, and provide customers with safer, higher-quality experiences.
  2. Targeted talent management
    In order to put more women in the c-suite management level, companies need to make it a culture to intentionally absorb and retain more women throughout the employee life cycle. This means that right from the attraction stage, recruitment, onboarding, retention, development and exit, focus should be put on giving more women opportunities to deliver at the top management level.
    Even during exit, the process should be so deliberate that it prepares women for better opportunities in the future, and not curtailing their progress. Through this intervention, a company that is keen on women empowerment towards the c-suite levels ought to make their workplaces and work attractive to women, recruit more women, onboard, retain, develop and even propel them to higher opportunities.
  3. Succession planning
    In many cases, lack of a succession plan makes it hard for companies to foresee and make deliberate intentions to include women candidates. Lack of succession planning perpetuates the continuation of the patriarchal system of succession where many of the women’s names don’t end up on the list of possible incumbents. 

I hope you’ve learned how to create more room for women in your company and are ready and willing to do so as part of your commitment to foster diversity, equity and inclusion in your workplace.


Ask us any questions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace, and our experts will be happy to consult with you.

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