Only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women, but study after study has shown that, the more women that serve in leadership roles in the public sector, the more profitable the company is. That’s the conundrum the U.S. Department of State is trying to solve — how can we encourage the private and public sector to develop budding female executives, and for that matter, how can we encourage women to work towards leadership goals?
Despite significant economic gains in the past few decades, there are still significant barriers in place for women in the workplace. And it’s not just the oft-quoted statistic above about the percentage of women atop Fortune 500 companies — it trickles down much further than that. On average, women are not as likely to receive the kind of mentorship that men receive, they are less likely to have female role models, they’re the victim of senseless stereotypes, they have more desire for a work life balance, etc.
Though women face major obstacles while climbing the corporate ladder, there is a strong correlation between women in high-level positions and the company’s bottom line. Why, exactly? There are a few explanations: For more than 15 years, women have earned more bachelor’s degrees than men, but the rates of women in senior executive positions has remained relatively stagnant across the boardrooms and corner offices. If corporations want to attract the best possible talent, the gender disparity needs to be more in line.
What’s more, the more women in leadership roles, the more women in entry-and-mid-level positions have female mentors. And a final reason — women and men think differently, and having more of a variety of genders at the top brings more perspectives to the table.
The Advisory Committee on International Economic Policy (ACIEP) submitted recommendations to the State Department’s Economic and Business Affairs Bureau about ways to encourage women’s leadership roles in business. It starts at the bottom — encourage girls as early as elementary school to become leaders.