Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

How women in leadership can drive business performance

The working world has experienced drastic changes in recent decades, with the business landscape no longer being male dominated. Fewer women are leaving the workplace for long periods of time to raise a family and manage the household and are choosing to balance work and home life, prioritising professional development and climbing the career ladder.

Recent studies have found that Manchester is home to the second highest number of businesses with female leaders, with a total of 3,269 across the city.  

However, although the 21st century has seen workplace equality progress in leaps and bounds, an imbalance persists, and there is still a fundamental lack of women in leadership roles.

According to the Global Gender Gap report, only 31% of people in leadership roles are women, and recent analysis shows that as of 2022, only 21 of the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies had female CEOs.

It’s no secret that women still face more challenges than their male counterparts in order to enter leadership positions, but why is it more crucial than ever to ensure women make up a higher proportion of leadership roles, and what could be the benefits to overall business performance?

Women drive workplace innovation

Having a diverse range of people around the table when tackling challenges in the workplace not only offers the opportunity to hear from different perspectives, but it can also lead to break through, innovative ideas that can maximise business performance.

Scientifically, men and women are likely to approach problems from different angles, so by hearing from a range of perspectives, organisations could find new ways of solving their unique challenges. Research by Deloitte suggests that companies who adopt and prioritise establishing an inclusive culture within the workplace are six times more likely to adopt innovative ideas, and therefore twice as likely to meet their financial targets.

Female leadership inspires the workforce

When women take up leadership positions, it’s not just them that benefit, it can be the whole organisation. Research carried out by the American Psychological Association found that female leaders are more likely to demonstrate transformational styles of leadership, and are also more likely to inspire and motivate colleagues to work collaboratively towards the organisation’s mission and values, compared with their male counterparts.

Compassionate leadership which focuses on careful listening, understanding, and empathising has clear evidence and results in more engaged and motivated staff, which in turn can lead to higher profitability across the whole organisation.

Improved collaboration

According to a 2010 psychological study where 699 people were split into working groups of two to five people, the findings suggested that the proportion of women in each group correlated with the group’s collective intelligence. The results of the study found that groups that had a higher proportion of women, experienced more conversational turn-taking, enabling more of the group to voice their opinion, share their ideas and utilise their skillset.

Collaboration is an important element of any business no matter the industry, it can lead to the development of more efficient processes, and allows the organisation to benefit from each individual’s talents.

Women provide invaluable customer insight

Nielson predicts that by 2028, women will make up 75% of discretionary spend, making them the most powerful influencers in the world. However, analysis suggests that only 35% of creative advertising directors in the US are women.

To authentically connect with women, businesses need to meaningfully engage with their needs, and wants as a consumer. By having more women in leadership positions in the commercial landscape, they can utilise a stronger understanding of women’s purchasing patterns, habits, and motivations, which could ultimately lead to an increase in business success.

Creating positive and productive work environments

Although it may seem a little cliché, there is proven scientific evidence that suggests that some women have stronger ‘soft skills’ than men. These include, emotional intelligence, communication, organisation, and empathy, all of which are crucial and fundamental elements that can lead to a business’s success.

This is backed up by recent research which suggests that women more effectively employ the emotional and social competencies correlated with effective leadership and management than men.

By supporting employee wellbeing, boosting confidence and moral, and providing a safe space within the workplace where employees feel valued and heard, this could lead to an overall decrease in staff turnover and recruitment costs.

How can organisations support women in the workplace?

The importance of women receiving the right support in order to maximise their potential and perform to the best of their ability, should continue to be a priority. 
Organisations need to continue enabling women into leadership positions to make sustainable progress towards gender enquiry in the workplace.

By identifying high-potential women early and investing in their career development, setting measurable promotion goals to help them achieve and exceed targets, and by advocating the benefits far and wide of female leadership, organisations can move towards addressing gender equality in the workplace.

Final thoughts

There is no doubt that the positive results of women excelling in leadership roles can be seen everywhere. From US Vice President Kamala Harris, to Manager of the England Women’s football team Sarina Wiegman, women are rising to the top in leadership positions all around the world.

No matter the age or seniority level that women have reached, there’s always new skills to add to your professional development toolkit, especially in the ever-changing nature of today’s business landscape.

Here at Alliance Manchester Business School, we have developed a portfolio of short business courses, built to equip professionals with the knowledge, leadership techniques and frameworks needed to excel in a dynamic and transformative business landscape.

Our accredited Senior Leader Apprenticeship programme, will also enable you to develop your potential and consolidate your current experience, and is an ideal platform to help you make the step into a more senior leadership position. In recent years, we have seen an increase in women taking advantage of this opportunity, with female learners making up 45% of delegates in the two most recent cohorts of the programme.

Women deserve the chance to thrive at work and reach their potential, and we want to encourage this by enabling women to develop their leadership skills and achieve success in the positions in which they belong.

Blog posts give the views of the author, and are not necessarily those of Alliance Manchester Business School and The University of Manchester.

Become a Contributor
Get in touch to discuss your idea.