Women Are Ready to Smash the Glass Ceiling—They Just Need the Chance
Female changemakers are striving to smash the glass ceilings that continue to block women from moving into leadership roles. While it was once unimaginable to be a female CEO, we can now honestly tell little girls, “You can be whatever you want to be.” March is Women’s History Month, and as executive chair of the board of Aspira Women’s Health, I’d like to share my thoughts on women in the workplace.
In 2021, women held a mere 15 percent of CEO roles in health care organizations. This underrepresentation of women on health care executive leadership teams persists—despite the fact that three out of four health care workers are women and despite data showing that diverse leadership teams improve organizational performance, leading to better outcomes.
A Call to Promote Women
We live in a world where women (particularly women of color) are far less likely to be promoted to a manager than men. As ethical leaders, we must take active steps to correct this: hiring more women (including minority women), promoting them and giving them opportunities to learn, lead and grow. Why? Not just because it’s the right thing to do. Female leaders are more likely to support their team members and more likely to make diversity and inclusion work a priority. These efforts and contributions aren’t meaningless; female leaders have happier employees who are more likely to feel committed to their companies.
A Call to Invest in Women
Did you know that only 12 percent of venture capital decision makers are women? Most firms lack a single female partner. Despite this, I’m pleased to see a rise in FemTech startups and increased funding for startups with female founders. But what concerns me is that fact that female founders only received 2.3 percent of venture capital funding in 2020, a decline from 2.8 percent in 2019. If we go back in history and see that annually at least 80 percent of all venture capital funds went to all-male founded teams, the message is clear: To support women, we must start investing more equitably. Especially when you note that female-led companies are six times more likely to hire women on their executive leadership teams.
In a male-dominated world, women have a harder time breaking in. While many strides have been made towards equity in the workplace, we still have a long way to go. Personally, I know we can do better.
A Call to Support Women in Business
Female-led companies yield higher revenue, more diverse teams and stronger organizational performance. Female-led startups are more likely to hire women and find success once they do receive funding, delivering “higher revenue—more than twice as much per dollar invested.” And when female venture capitalists fund, they are twice as likely to invest in female founded teams compared to male counterparts.
My take home message? Hire women. Promote qualified women. Invest in women, particularly women of color. Give them raises. Pay them well. Give them flexibility. Let them work from home if they desire. Let them take the lead. Let them build the foundation for sustainable sick and maternity leave, plus other benefits. The art of being a mom, caregiver and career rock star can be mastered with the right foundation. And lastly, invest in businesses devoted to supporting women’s health. Women’s health and wellbeing are the cornerstone to all of the above.
A Call to Change the Status Quo
As evidenced by the Great Resignation that still persists, the status quo isn’t working. And the status quo won’t change if the people in charge aren’t going to change. In order to remain competitive in this ever-changing global landscape, we must do better. By hiring females to fill our executive teams, promoting women into senior leadership positions and ensuring that racial and ethnic minorities are well-represented on our boards and across all leadership teams, we are set up for greater success and better outcomes. Have the courage to stand up for what is right. When women thrive, we all thrive. If we lift women, we lift humanity. Tall order but not impossible. What are we waiting for?