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Female Empowerment, ‘Glass Box’ Cultures and the Ability (or Inability) to Disconnect | LeadersHub Jan 2020

After the success of our inaugural LeadersHub event in October, we were excited to be hosting our second event on the 23rd of January. For those that attended, you will (hopefully) agree that it was a very honest and valuable discussion on topics that focus on the future of leadership.

We covered important subjects such as female empowerment in the workplace, ‘glass box’ cultures, and the ability (or inability) to disconnect in this era of technology enablement and an ‘always-on’ culture. It brought to the fore important issues for 2020 and beyond.

We took the opportunity to share some of the key take-outs. Here are just some of the industry-rife issues we can all pay more attention to.

Ellie Doyle, Taragh Loughrey-Grant

Ellie Doyle (left), Taragh Loughrey-Grant (right)

Topic 1: Disconnect – in a world of Trust, Autonomy and Accountability, have we taken away the ability to switch off?

The industry is changing at pace, fuelled by our need to constantly be ‘on’. Technology has been the primary enabler of this, helping us to work whenever and from wherever we want.

There are many plus points to this enablement of course, including remote and flexible working conditions in many companies.

However, there’s a dark downside – many of us are struggling to turn off. Out of work email responding, getting up early to complete work before the day begins, and for many parents – logging on when the kids go to bed, working sometimes into the night.

This has become a national, if not global obsession.

So then, how can we overcome this? Setting boundaries is the first step. We need to recognise our own limitations. But more importantly, Leaders need to set a new standard, leading by example. Once they promote ‘disconnecting’ and some self-case, the rest will fall into place.

Another consideration is the growing face of the industry. Millennials are shaping the future of working practices, and businesses need to move with the times. Here’s some ways this can be achieved:

  • Working from home policies should be available, but not compulsory for all companies.
  • Companies today must listen to the feedback of its team members – line managers must be open to two-way communication and better ways of working.
  • Recognising that we all work with global teams is not an excuse for working all hours. Acceptable working hours need to be reviewed.
  • Being adaptable and agile is highly important in 2020.

Leadershub, leaders, executive events, executives, events, talenthub

Topic 2: Exposure – how do we turn the glass box of business, into a positive? How can this be an attractive factor for customers or talent with this glass box view.

In this age of transparency, ‘glass box marketing’ has many noted benefits. For hiring managers and candidates, this provides a useful insight into company culture, especially through social media. HubSpot is a great example.

Transparency is growing as an important brand proposition. After all, today’s millennials want to work for companies whose values align with theirs. So in terms of corporate branding, social media is where consumers and candidates come to assess a brands values and ethics.

Authenticity is the buzzword here.

In these competitive times, people value where they work and how it complements their lives. A brand that was given as an example on the day is Fitbit, which hosts fitness classes and healthy food for their employees, to truly embody the spirit of their brand.

So then, here’s how businesses can achieve this:

  • Culture shouldn’t be forced, but designed
  • Transparency is key in these culturally aware times – this must be built from the inside out of your business out
  •  There’s a growing emphasis on ‘ethics’ – companies will need to work harder to achieve this by having a robust CSR programme in place.
  • Be authentic – in everything you say and everything you do as a business.

Taragh Loughrey-Grant, leaders, executive events, executives, events, talenthub

Topic 3: Imposter syndrome – how businesses can commercially benefit from more female leaders

It may be over six years’ old, but Sheryl Sanderberg’s seminal book ‘Lean In’ resonates now more than ever. From learning to stop apologising for our shortcomings, to being more forthright in our abilities, the book highlights a number of ways in which women can help themselves in the workplace.

Yet still, there’s a consensus that more needs to be done to help accelerate female leaders in the workplace. Imposter Syndrome is very much a female- issue, which can hold otherwise great leaders back.

It’s not simply a case of ‘equal opportunities, research shows that businesses with more women on boards financially outperform companies with lower female representation. There’s many reasons for this, namely the different approach and perspective that female professionals bring.

So then, as a final point, what can businesses do more of, to support women in the workplace? Here’s some considerations that can be adopted:

  • Readdressing the gender balance in traditionally male dominated industries, such as IT, by doing more to lure in female talent.
  • Promoting assertiveness in the workplace. Studies show that women are more likely to doubt their ability than their male counterparts.
  • Roll out mentorship programmes, helping to take people out of their comfort zones. This also includes reverse mentoring, which bridges the gap between the younger and older generations.
  • HR should remember that people join companies and leave managers. They should also review whether HR quotas work, and if the focus should instead be on creating a level playing field.
  • Allegiance over alienation – let’s try and bring everyone together – not just the women, not just the men.

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