Opening The Path To Women’s Leadership In The Business World

Regina Granados De Ita is the CEO of LeasePlan Mexico, a vehicle leasing company in Mexico.

The role of women when it comes to economic reactivation across the world is fundamental in my opinion. I believe it is time for qualified and competent women to take increasingly important leadership positions and drive both organizations and institutions toward a new normal state in which talent comes first, without any distinction in terms of gender or any other personal condition.

According to a 2018 study from McKinsey & Company, 15% of companies in Mexico have women in senior management positions and only 8% have women as CEOs. This tells us that everyone has a part to play in achieving greater equality. Even though there are more women in strategic decision-making positions than there used to be, we are still the exception. This unfortunately happens in every sector and especially with positions with greater responsibilities.

As in every sphere, the pandemic has helped make visible a lot of themes — one of them is inequity in labor. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has remarked that contemporary global markets are still known for their profound gender inequality. In 2019, the participation rate of women in the workforce was 47% — 27% less than men’s rate of 74%. There is also a strong regional variation in gender disparity when having access to employment.

The number of women in leadership positions is growing, and it will likely continue to grow as soon as organizations understand the positive impact they can make by integrating more women in their workspaces, by promoting equal opportunities or establishing systems that give equal recognition depending on the post.

For example, my company does our part through the implementation of programs, measures and mechanisms with a deep gender perspective and the objective of promoting equality between every collaborator. We set the goal that a minimum of 40% of our workforce has to be women, and we have achieved that same percentage in executive positions.

How Business Leaders Can Help

To change the paradigms that often prevail within organizations, it is important to first know that it is a long road ahead and that this will be a long-term commitment. As a first step, review the practices and procedures your company uses to identify, develop and promote talent. A good practice is to define rules and procedures to eliminate gender biases and prejudices that, by their nature, are unconscious and persistent.

An example of this is to take great care in the way a job is described, as this can have a huge effect on whether applications will be more geared toward men or women. Far fewer women apply when compensation for a position is advertised as competitive and variable, rather than relying on objective performance measures. 

Another step is to push for jobs with built-in flexibility, since they are often more attractive to women. Many companies are adopting so-called “flexible hours” policies, which make it possible for employees to decide how long to focus on work and private activities without losing efficiency. 

Similarly, take a close look at your company’s data. I believe we must give the same level of rigor to the decisions we make about people that we use to make business decisions. There are several tools and methodologies that can help companies measure equity and inclusion issues. For example, to measure salary equity you can use EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality), an initiative that was presented at the World Economic Forum in 2011 and that makes available a rigorous methodology to assess gender equity and a certification for reaching an international standard. Another option for analyzing your diversity efforts is BCG’s Diversity and Inclusion Assessment for Leadership (DIAL), which measures data across industries and geographies. 

I believe that the only way to get results that remain over time and become part of the culture is through the participation of all of society. This is not a conflict between men and women; this is about making changes in the inclusion of women thanks to their valuable input, abilities, capabilities and impact on business. The benefits can be evident in terms of organizational improvement and the performance of teams. 

I encourage all business leaders to create more inclusive and equitable environments for everyone. I believe that it is time to promote recovery from the pandemic and build more inclusive societies and opportunities for all. Making a more inclusive world is everyone’s job!

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