Why Organizations Should Invest in Women’s Leadership

Why Organizations Should Invest in Women’s Leadership

We need more women leaders. It’s good for women and good for business.

Organizations with more women in executive and board roles consistently outperform others. Recent research from McKinsey suggests that organizations with more than 30% women on their executive teams have up to 50% higher financial performance than those with fewer.[1]

Yet, women have historically been underrepresented at all leadership levels. And despite women’s growing presence in leadership positions over the last 25 years, women still hold significantly fewer roles than men. Current statistics indicate that women represent almost 50% of entry-level workers, but less than 40% of managers. This “broken rung” of advancement to first-level management has been shown to be the greatest barrier to senior leadership roles for women. Indeed, female executive representation remains below 25% across industries in the United States and Great Britain.1 Moreover, women of color fall further behind at each leadership level.[2]

Progress for women has not been consistent either. During the first year of the pandemic, the labor force lost significantly more women than men. Across all levels of leadership, the “pipeline” of women declined significantly between 2019-2021, and currently, women are leaving director-level roles at higher rates than before the pandemic and at higher rates than men.

Some have suggested that the gender gap in leadership exists because women are less interested in and committed to advancing into higher levels of leadership. The data are clear here.2 This is a myth. Women are as professionally ambitious as men and even more so than before the pandemic. Instead, research indicates many barriers to women’s advancement, including fair assessment of their abilities as well as equal access to leadership development resources, professional networks, and management roles.

The reality is simple; women want to be leaders and organizations are more effective when women lead. So, what can organizations do to support women’s leadership?

As a first step, organizations can invest in women’s development through programs such as PRADCO’s Women in Leadership (WIL). At PRADCO, we’ve designed our WIL program to ensure an ROI for women at all levels. In our program, women:

  • take a deep dive into their own leadership with the one-on-one support of an executive coach
  • build assessment-driven, self-awareness and a personalized action plan for growth
  • understand key behaviors that enhance confidence, build trust, and demonstrate executive presence
  • learn frameworks and tools to drive operational effectiveness, decision-making, and results, and
  • engage in critical discussions with other women

As facilitators of the program, we also believe our professional experience as female leaders is critical to creating a powerful environment for participants. Indeed, while we both navigated common challenges on the journey to executive leadership, our experiences are differentiated by Barb’s opportunity to participate in the WIL program. Her story illustrates the power of WIL.

Barb’s Story

Prior to PRADCO, I had a successful career in the non-profit sector. As I progressed from direct service into leadership, I was surrounded by fewer women colleagues and declining professional support. By the time I was promoted to the executive team, I was the only woman. Despite having confidence from years of successful leadership, I found myself withholding my ideas and questioning my decision-making. I was fortunate to be introduced to PRADCO and enrolled in WIL in the hopes of getting the support and resources I needed. The program exceeded my expectations. It gave me tools to elevate my leadership, helped me learn how other women were tackling these issues, and provided a lasting network to succeed as an executive. The program had such an impact on me that years later, I jumped at the chance to join the PRADCO team and give other women the support I received through WIL.

Like it was for Barb, WIL has the power to transform women’s leadership experiences. Nonetheless, investing in women’s development through programs such as WIL is only part of the solution. Women’s leadership must also be supported by a broader commitment to developing culture, practices, and allyship that remove organizational barriers for women. To support this commitment, PRADCO offers strategies such as anti-bias and allyship training, reviewing policies and practices to ensure equity, and hosting workshops to develop the organizational values, language, and behaviors that enhance belonging.

As experienced facilitators in our Women in Leadership program and organizational workshops, we have heard countless stories that illustrate the everyday challenges women face in their organizations. We’ve also observed the powerful impact on women when organizations prioritize their engagement and success. 

To learn more about participating in our Women in Leadership program or other services to support gender equity in your organization, contact us at (440) 337-4700 or sales@pradco.com.

Dr. Beckett Broh
Dr. Beckett Broh brings over 20 years of experience in executive leadership, learning and development, and consulting to PRADCO. Through her work in the public and private sectors, her experience includes extensive work in crisis and conflict response, developing leaders and teams, recruitment and retention, community relations, and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Whether facilitating, coaching, or advising, Beckett cultivates trust and engagement to maximize outcomes and growth. Beckett has been trained in the Pedagogy of Leadership and is also certified in Change Management. Beckett earned her B.A. in Psychology and Exercise Physiology from Albion College and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from The Ohio State University.
Barb Utrup
Ms. Utrup has over 20 years of experience in human resources and business consulting. She has supported organizations in the areas of talent management and organizational development, and has experience in various industries. At PRADCO, Ms. Utrup works with leaders to refine their leadership skills, and offers strategies to enhance their effectiveness on the job. Ms. Utrup also develops and facilitates training programs to assist teams and organizations develop into high-performing units, effectively lead change, and operate more cohesively. Ms. Utrup earned a BBA in Human Resources from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and holds Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and SHRM Certified Professional (SHRM-CP) certifications.

[1] McKinsey & Company (2020, May 19). Diversity Wins: How Inclusion Matters. www.McKinsey.com.

[2] Leanin.org and McKinsey & Company (2023, October 5). Women in the Workplace 2023. www.McKinsey.com.