The media showcase successful women and you often come across articles describing how quotas can ensure that more women are placed in managerial and board positions.
We have a huge female talent pool in Denmark, but unfortunately, it is underutilized.
The problem is that there are women ready, willing and qualified to take on the managerial position but we haven’t made that next step an obvious one.
Far too rarely, do the media portray female leaders that the broad female talent pool can identify themselves with.
Instead, the same female top profiles are highlighted again and again. They are portrayed with a stay-at-home dad, an au-pair and grandparents who take care of the children so that the women have energy to do a bunch of other things in addition to handling their top jobs.
While these women certainly deserve accolades, these portraits are so far from the vast majority’s reality that instead of being inspiring, they make the average female talent take a step back because she feels inadequate to achieve a management position if she doesn’t have the same supportive advantages as the usual career stars in the media.
We want more diversity, but we quite simply do not ensure enough diversity in the public representation of today’s woman in top management.
We need to depict diversity and show that female top profiles come from all social classes and have many different background circumstances.
The vast majority of the female workforce doesn’t necessarily have access to the same degree of support as the star profiles of the media. So let’s ensure that we portray female leaders for whom a career in management isn’t stereotypical and that we tell their stories too.
The great potential is only unleashed if we also portray female leaders that the broad talent pool can be inspired and guided by. If we succeed in doing that, we may have a greater chance of channelling more women into management.
In the digital age, there is a growing need among the employees to get to know their managers as human beings before they are ready to be guided and led by that person. The average woman from the broad talent pool is very much capable of meeting this need, and we need her to know that.
Among other things, the average woman’s life experience enables her to communicate with the employees at eye level and with empathy and, in turn, the average employee can then identify with his/her leader as a human being. That is a real strength.
If there are more female leaders from diverse backgrounds to highlight as role models, more average women will be able to identify with them and join the breadth of female talents. Not until the talent food chain sustains itself and we have increased the range of female talents who can take on management jobs do we have the potential to ensure diversity in the top management in companies in Denmark.
Founder of the Global Voices project. Belongingness officer and an experienced People Executive.