Creating and developing women leaders may be the onus of every HR executive, CEO, and board, but the reality is, the development of global women leaders must start much earlier than during their professional careers. Angela Merkel learned the “clarity of argument” and the “rigor of logic” from her father. In fact, the common element among women leaders around the globe, including Angela Merkel, was their childhood experiences. In other words, developing global women leaders starts at home, around the dinner table, in families where daughters are permitted and encouraged to speak, share ideas, and become unique individuals. Teachers and business leaders play a powerful role in furthering these opportunities to the young girls and women in their communities through mentoring and volunteering programs.
Why Do We Care about Developing Global Women Leaders?
The development that begins at the dinner table and in the classroom continues when women have a voice in their companies, in their communities, and in their governments. Developing strong global women leaders and achieving gender parity isn’t something businesses need to do to be fair; it’s something they must do to remain competitive:
- More women on boards means a bigger bottom line.
- More women leading your business means better decision making and a measurable increase in EBITDA.
- More women in politics means more peace.
Building Global Women Leaders Starts at Home
Building on research conducted at the University of Utah, Sharmilla Ganesan spoke to three global women leaders from disparate backgrounds, to find the common thread that helped them develop into prominent leaders. All three women – Agnes Igoye of Uganda, who works with her government to counter human trafficking; Ikram Ben Said, the founder of Tunisian women’s-rights organization Aswat Nissa; and Sairee Chahal of India, who started SHEROES, a digital platform that helps women get back into the workforce – had an empowering father figure and women – mothers and other women in their lives – who provided a non-traditional example of strength. All three shared how these early influences were foundational to their global leadership roles today.
How Are You Empowering Young Women to Be Global Leaders?
CEOs can learn from these inspiring women leaders. While CEOs must continue to take strong actions to provide opportunities for women in the workplace, they must also pay attention to the opportunity and voice they provide to young girls – daughters and granddaughters, nieces, and students in their communities. Women have been fighting an uphill battle to achieve parity for too long.
Real change must start long before women enter the workplace. Look at the world at large for innovative and creative ways to inspire how you develop your future leaders. And don’t forget to start in your own neighborhood.