Women make good leaders as they have natural and learned abilities that benefit workplaces. Women more naturally lean toward a cooperative, collaborative work environment rather than toward a top-down leadership model. (Pexels/Contributed)

Women make good leaders as they have natural and learned abilities that benefit workplaces. Women more naturally lean toward a cooperative, collaborative work environment rather than toward a top-down leadership model. (Pexels/Contributed)

Vernon women’s group says normalize gender parity

Need for more diverse, better model of leadership necessary for success in businesses: CFUW

Donna Tomljanovic and Bev Weidman

Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon

We all know women are under-represented in almost all categories of leadership. And each of us, in our own way, works to overcome the obstacles in our paths. But beyond our individual needs and drives, have you asked yourself why it is important for society at large that gender parity becomes the norm rather than an exception?

It is because women make great leaders!

Women have natural and learned abilities that benefit the places where we work. Women more naturally lean toward a cooperative, collaborative work environment rather than toward a top-down leadership model.

These are not stereotypical statements. There are articles and studies that attest to this.

It is now recognized that good leaders have, among other attributes, a balanced set of soft skills, sometimes referred to as emotional intelligence. These skills include adaptability, a positive outlook, empathy, mentoring, conflict management, a consensual and collaborative approach and teamwork. You may not think you have these skills, but take a closer look and don’t sell yourself short.

In 2015, when asked to explain his gender-equal cabinet, Justin Trudeau replied, “Because it’s 2015!” And he appointed another gender-equal cabinet in ­2019. It appears it was self-evident that NOW is the time for gender equality.

For society, this means not only in the top level of government but across the board in our workplaces. Women comprise half the population and should also comprise half of the leadership positions in the various sectors of the economy.

The need for a more diverse, and therefore better, model of leadership is necessary for success in businesses and organizations so that their structures more accurately reflect the society to which they appeal.

If it is recognized that women have the skills, why have these not translated into greater numbers in leadership roles?

One reason may be that women have tended to lack the avenues used by men to achieve advancement, in particular, the old “men’s clubs”, whether they be recreational, organizational or professional in nature.

What goes on in these male bastions of power?

Apart from the social aspect, clearly what goes on is professional networking, role modelling and mentorship.

Women need to create these avenues for themselves. Women need the support of other women to attain success.

We can mentor. We can help a co-worker in improving her position, give her some tips. We recognize that each of us is a role model to someone (perhaps a son or daughter, a student, colleague). We can help the up-and-comers to network.

An organization that provides for these various opportunities is Vernon Women in Business. Check it out at vwib.com. There are others. Look for them – or create them!

Apart from the above personal supports, more concrete infrastructure is required. This includes affordable child care, paid parental leave, guarantees of return to previous positions once maternity leave has run out, and opportunities for training and development.

Advancement on these measures will in part be achieved through women joining together to advocate all levels of government for improvements. Organizations such as the Canadian Federation of University Women Vernon provide a means for this. Let us see what we can do to escalate progress. Collectively, we can do it.

We aren’t all Dragons Den panellists, but we can lead by example, hard work and cooperation.

Now is the time to move above the glass ceiling!

The Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW) Vernon is a local volunteer organization that welcomes all women who promote, advocate and encourage women.