In recent years, women have held the buying power in the market, and make the majority of purchasing decisions. So, who is leading the companies that make the products women are buying for themselves and their families? Very often, it’s women. Women business leaders are at an all-time high and continued growth is expected.
As of July 2012, there were twenty Fortune 500 companies with women CEOs. Women are leading some of the largest companies in the world! This is incredible — and so empowering for small business owners like Debbe and I.
But, we should have seen it coming. In the 2008 recession, men lost their jobs in greater numbers than women because women’s skills were more flexible. In general, men tended to wait for their old jobs to come back while women have adapted to make the most of new opportunities — even going back to school. In 2012 there were 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the US. Recent blockbuster films and best-selling novels have women front and center as the heroines. These leading roles, typically played by men, are providing the cultural context and empowerment for women to take leading roles in the business world.
Now that we have talked about all the numbers, let us look into certain characteristics that are helping women become such important leaders.
The business world is now relying more on feminine traits; relationships and passion. We live in a very technology-driven world, but consumers still crave that human touch from companies. They want a relationship with businesses, and women are more adept at relationship building. Science proves women are more natural communicators and engagers, the key foundation of relationship building.
Having a strong emotional drive can be very powerful in leading a business. When women are excited and passionate about a product, a service, or company, they become extremely driven from that emotion. Men strive to hide their emotions. I am not saying that men cannot be passionate (hey, I married an Italian!), but men tend to downplay the positive benefits of emotion and passion as a force to drive innovation and growth.
The bottom line is that diversity has always been a powerful force in any company — including male-female diversity. It leads to better solutions, allows faster problem-solving, and enables companies to better identify opportunities. I think we will see the number of female business leaders continue to increase, because we need a balance of men and women leading together in business.