How to Empower Women in Leadership

Victoria McLean our consultant managing the role
Posting date: 02 March 2023

To mark International Women’s Day on the 8th March, we take a look at the incredible impact women can have in senior leadership roles, and how businesses can support women as they climb the career ladder. 

The current status of women in leadership roles

Around 40% of positions on FTSE 100 boards are held by women, according to a report released in 2022. That’s a step in the right direction - 10 years ago, it was 12.5%. 


But there’s a lot of progress that still needs to happen. When you look more closely at the 40% figure, you find that only 9% of that number of women are CEOs.


That is an alarming lack of diversity.


Businesses need to do more to boost women into leadership roles, especially when you consider the positive impact women can have when they have a seat at the board table. 

The positive impact of women at board level

Board diversity can truly impact business success, and gender diversity is proven to improve profits. Let’s look at the stats:

  • Companies with better diversity at board and C-suite level outperform those with below average diversity
  • Better gender diversity on executive teams means companies are 25% more likely to show above-average profitability
  • Companies with no women on executive committees had a net profit margin of 1.5%, while those with more than a third of women had a 15.2% net profit margin


Having women in leadership positions massively benefits companies. It brings a different perspective and outlook to boards, women are more likely to focus on inclusion, they can help to improve ESG and they can achieve greater innovation.


So, if your organisation doesn’t have enough women leaders, how can you support them into these types of roles?

How to empower women leaders in your organisation

A lot needs to be done to improve gender diversity on boards and advance women into senior positions. Here’s what organisations can do:

1.   Understand the workplace from a woman’s point of view

There’s plenty of research and statistics around how women view the workplace, the common challenges they face and what a good workplace looks like for them. This ‘Women in the Workplace’ report by McKinsey is a good starting point.


Then, compare this with your own workplace and conduct a sort of gap analysis. What could you be doing better? Where are the areas for improvement? What could you be doing more (or less) of?


Simply understanding how women see and are seen in the workplace will give you a good idea of how you can improve their career possibilities.

2.   Improve succession planning

There must be more accountability around succession planning and diversity. Examine your succession plan for gender gaps, look at the women in your organisation who have the potential to become leaders and include them in your plans.

3.   Create a mentoring programme

Encourage the female leaders in your organisation to become mentors to more junior women. Recognising yourself in someone more senior than you can boost your chances of success, and real-life examples show you that if someone else can do it, so can you.


From a business point of view, you’ll also be ensuring that your values are being upheld and passed on by your mentors. 

4.   Ensure your policies are equitable

Take a look at the policies and practices in place at your organisation. Are they truly equitable? Are they fair to everyone, no matter their gender (or race, or ethnicity)? It’s often a good idea to get an external perspective on this.

5.   Offer flexibility

A hot topic for debate, flexibility in the workplace is often a must for women, especially women with families (and the same flexibility of course must be given to men, too). 


But it’s simply a fact that women are often the caretakers for their families, and providing flexibility enables women to do their job better. It’s a win-win though - women are more likely to be loyal to an organisation that treats them fairly and provides this flexibility.

Not only that, but have you thought about how your organisation supports women through perimenopause and menopause?

6.   Give women a voice

Women (and indeed everyone) should feel comfortable and empowered to share their thoughts and opinions. Being intentional about hearing women and providing them with space to express themselves is crucial - not only to them, but to your business, too. You’ll get to hear fresh ideas, new ways of doing things and different perspectives.

7.   Consider your workplace culture

Ensure that women are visible and valued in your workplace. Shining a light on great work and achievements will help women be recognised across the organisation for their contributions and feel empowered and confident. Creating this type of workplace culture is beneficial for everyone, and also helps businesses to retain and attract high-performing talent.

If you would like to discuss this topic in more detail please do get in touch

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