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Women in the workplace: How to empower female leadership in your organization

By SME Institute

According to McKinsey & Company, we are in the midst of “a great breakup.” The consultancy’s 2022 Women in the Workplace study laid bare some hard truths: women are demanding more from work, and are leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. The difficulties in retaining female leaders are all the more concerning, given women are already underrepresented in leadership positions. And the dynamics are “even more pronounced for women of colour,” according to the McKinsey study.

This is a worrying trend, as research has repeatedly shown that having more women in leadership roles leads to better performance for businesses of all sizes. So why is this happening, and what can small businesses do to reverse this trend?

The Reasons Behind Women Leaving the Workplace

There are a variety of reasons why women may be leaving the workplace. Some cite a lack of opportunity for career advancement or feeling as though their voices are not being heard when it comes to decision making. Others cite feeling undervalued or dismissed by their male counterparts and not having access to resources that could help them further their careers.

Additionally, many women feel that they have to work harder than men in order to achieve success, yet still receive less recognition for their efforts. And according to the McKinsey study, female leaders also feel they are doing more to support “employee well-being and foster inclusion” but that this work goes largely unnoticed and unrewarded.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Women in the Workplace

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on women in the workplace. With millions of people losing their jobs or being furloughed due to the pandemic, many women have been left feeling uncertain about their future. This has caused an increased demand for job security and better pay opportunities among women in the workforce.

At the same time, female leaders are taking steps to address these issues by leaving their positions in search of greener pastures. This exodus of talented female leaders is leaving a void in many organizations that will be difficult to fill without strategic recruitment efforts.

What Small Businesses Can Do To Reverse The Trend

Small businesses can take steps to retain top talent and create an environment where women feel valued and appreciated. To start, it’s essential that small business owners review their hiring practices with an eye towards diversity, equity and inclusion. This means looking beyond traditional recruitment methods such as job boards and networking events and instead reaching out actively into diverse communities for potential candidates who may not otherwise consider applying for positions at your company.

Creating an inclusive atmosphere within your organization is paramount; this means ensuring that all staff members have equal access to resources, training opportunities and promotions, regardless of gender or other personal identity factors. It also means creating a safe space where employees can bring up issues or concerns without fear of retribution or dismissal. Finally, small businesses should strive to create supportive mentoring programs which provide guidance and support for female employees throughout their careers.

Women are increasingly demanding more from work; they want supportive environments where they can grow professionally without fear of discrimination or stagnation. As such, small business owners must take steps towards creating inclusive workplaces that recognise and value the contributions of women at all levels if they want to attract top talent and ensure long-term success. By reviewing their hiring practices with an eye towards diversity and inclusion, creating supportive mentoring programs, and fostering an atmosphere where everyone feels respected and valued—small businesses can help reverse these concerning trends.

To learn more about how to empower female leadership in your organization, explore our DEI training options and consulting opportunities


Make sure to check out the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Women in Business Summit happening June 14.  

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