Women in leadership

Women in leadership

As a female CEO of an agency which also has a female MD, head of account management, director of operations, and head of digital, the fact that the problem of gender diversity still exists in our industry somewhat baffles me.

Seriously, men and women are equally capable.

But that’s not to say they’re the same, and this is where the problems begin to arise.

In our mutual pursuit of ‘equality’ we have all failed (women and men alike) to recognise that women are different, so need a different management approach to ensure they thrive.

Given that the commercial and cultural benefits of gender diversity have been well documented, more women in senior positions will be a good thing for everyone. So here are a few thoughts on how I believe organisations can better manage women in order that they realise their potential.

  • Promote them. It sounds daft, but women are less likely to promote themselves, so need to be spotted and championed. They’re less likely than men to believe in their own ability to reach the most senior level, so they need to be encouraged and supported more than men.
  • Praise them. In general, women are more sensitive than men, and so their confidence needs nurturing. They need a supportive network around them and they need positive reinforcement to ensure they have the confidence of their convictions.
  • Be interested in them. Work is one part of a woman’s life and they really appreciate interest in the rest of it.
  • Remunerate them fairly. Perhaps due to a lack of confidence, or even a refusal to demand what they deserve, women often fail to directly ask for what they want or to be compensated fairly for the level of responsibility and pressure, so sometimes end up feeling undervalued or that the stress is simply not worth the salary. Pay them fairly and this won’t be an issue.
  • Mentor them. In my experience, solid mentoring from objective and respected people can result in greater confidence and belief.

I have been very fortunate throughout my career to have been mentored, supported, and trusted to take on more and more responsibility, never more so than in my current role.

I hope to support as many other women on their way up as I can, and sincerely look forward to a time when the issue of gender diversity is a non-issue. In the meantime, I encourage my many male peers to identify and encourage high performing females in order to help them thrive – it’s good for us all.

Suzie Shaw is CEO of Host, a mother of two, and founder of networking and mentoring group, SWIMM (Senior Women in Media and Marketing).


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