Elizabeth Filippouli: Female leadership – a paradigm shift

Elizabeth Filippouli at the Business Leaders Awards
Photo: Elizabeth Filippouli at the Business Leaders Awards

We need to understand that inequality is manifested in numerous ways: women are often underrepresented in professional or managerial levels, while women workers are concentrated in traditional types of employment. In general, women have less access to skills and career development initiatives and tend to work in jobs that offer limited flexibility.

Research shows that an understanding of the value of equality produces both cultural and behavioural change in the work environment. There are countries who pioneered policies in the area of gender equality.  For example, Norway has been a game changer in increasing women participation and in the introduction of positive measures that foster equality in the business world. Let us visit some of the factors that explain this positive development, although there are always issues that remain to be tackled.

Leadership is often seen as a ‘male’ virtue. This means that integrating leadership into one’s core identity is particularly challenging for women, who may need to address a tacit culture of doubt and frequently have difficulty in establishing their credibility. Women’s leadership potential sometimes shows in less conventional ways—being responsive to clients’ needs, for example, rather than boldly asserting a point of view.

Today, more women are in paid employment than ever; but women are still not earning equal wages to men.

Today more women are making it to senior management; but they still only make up 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs. Today more women make headlines, their voices are more heard than ever before; but it is only a small amount more—and they are still full of clichés.

And, by the way, this is not about “feminism,” it is about a paradigm shift that is underway and about more and more private companies and governments discovering the economic and development gaps they create by not tapping into female leadership talent and work potential.

Elizabeth Filippouli is an entrepreneur and international business development expert. She is the founder and CEO of Global Thinkers and Global Thinkers Forum (GTF). She joins a panel to discuss the rise of women leaders at RISING 16 on Tuesday 15 November 2016.

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