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While workplace gender equality has made massive strides in the past few decades, there's still a long road ahead. Women working full-time are still paid less than their male counterparts, and only 5.5% of the U.S.'s 3,000 largest companies have women CEOs. In 2021, women composed only 10% of C-suite and 8% of executive board positions, showing no improvement from 2019 metrics.

As we discussed in a recent article, gender diversity can indeed benefit your association's bottom line, particularly when this diversity shows at an executive level. So, what can you do to help women attain and excel in leadership positions at your association? Here, we’ll lay out our top tips on how to support women in leadership positions.

Examine the Typical Career Progression Path in Your Organization

It all starts with helping women obtain leadership positions. Men often have access to more mentorship opportunities, career progression planning, and pay raise opportunities than women do. Women also tend to get saddled with additional responsibilities without the accompanying compensation and titles to back them up.

Related: 4 Crucial Facts About Women in the Workplace Today Learn More >

At the bottom of the ladder, pay equity is more common, but as employees begin to work their way through the rankings, the more aggressive advancement tactics men often employ can unintentionally bar women from reaching top leadership roles. Transparency around salary ranges and candidate diversity are ways of combating the roadblocks females face in attaining leadership roles.

Encourage Change in the Boardroom

It's no secret that diverse boards lead to revenue growth. And the more women there are in the boardroom, the more inclined they are to nudge hiring committees in the direction of women CEOs. Leading by example is a powerful tactic, and implementing this top-down approach to diversity from the boardroom is one example of how to put actions before words.

Provide Access to Financial & Business Training

On the path to leadership roles, it's important for future CEOs to gain expertise in finances, including profit and loss responsibility. Unfortunately, most finance roles are filled by men, which clogs the pipeline for potential women CEOs. Mentoring women managers on financial targets, budget management, and other financial and business topics can better equip them to take on higher management positions.

Additionally, establishing a pathway to break into these roles is essential for repairing the broken rung. Whether that means establishing a mentorship program that pairs potential leaders with those in existing roles or working to create apprenticeship-type relationships, associations need to be deliberate about creating pathways.

Promote a Flexible Working Environment

For gender diversity and diversity in general, flexible working environments are key to attracting and retaining top talent. This is especially true in a post-pandemic landscape after many workers got a brief taste of the autonomy offered by work from home positions. Job satisfaction is one way to attract diverse talent, and there's no better way to achieve it than by fostering a healthy work-life balance.

It's important to remember that working women are constantly juggling their priorities, whether those be work-related, health-related, or familial. With working women today composing a significant portion of the U.S. workforce, it's only natural for many of these women to be working mothers as well. Flexible workplaces are more likely to respect parental leave policies and be understanding about the occasional doctor's appointment or sports game that could take Mom away from the office.

Invite Women to Join the Conversation

The differing psychology and upbringings between men and women can cause some misunderstandings in a traditionally male-dominated business world. It's not that women don't want to contribute in a business meeting; it's that society’s social standards have often trained women not to interrupt or push a point where a man might not hesitate to speak up. 

Simply acknowledging a woman's actions or contributions to a meeting helps encourage her to speak up. It also helps women feel heard, which can do wonders in building their confidence and leadership abilities. 

Implement These Strategies to Support Women in Leadership

That's all for our top tips to support women in leadership roles. We’ve given you an overview of some of the best ways of encouraging gender diversity in your association, but this article is far from exhaustive. Now that you’ve learned about the most effective steps you can take to help women in your organization achieve success, the rest is up to you.

Celita Summa
Post by Celita Summa
March 5, 2022
By day, Celita Summa is a Florida-based freelance writer specializing in business, technology, marketing, and a plethora of other topics. By night, Celita can be found developing her special talents, which include her black belt in karate, her fluent Italian, and her knack for vegan cooking.