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Safety and Health Practitioner (SHP) is first for independent health and safety news.
March 8, 2023

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International Women’s Day: #EmbraceEquity

In her second blog for SHP, Louise Hosking discusses leadership at the top and approaches to gender equity for International Women’s Day… 

Louise Hosking

How we implement arrangements, how we create positive transformation across organisations and how we work with others is a creative process.

Our personal leadership approaches are honed by our personal abilities, experiences and who we are. When health and safety is fully embraced across organisations in a manner which inspires and adds values it creates a psychologically safe workplace where teams trust one another.

When we create trust amazing things happen because people across the organisation feel they can bring their true selves to the workplace and play to their strengths.

As we develop these approaches we are talking more about EDI, flexible, hybrid working and authentic leadership. I am repeatedly reminded by my mentors “to be myself”.

I say this to others too, which my mentors remind me about!

Micro and macro aggressive behaviours

Women and those with more “feminine” approaches continue to experience micro and macro aggressive behaviours which chip away at self-esteem. In hosting health and safety leadership training for women I have heard some truly shocking stories.

It becomes “normal” and as a result we are losing good people from our talent pipelines. Good people will not stay in an environment where poor behaviour is tolerated. My own personal self-doubt is the reason why those who have supported my professional journey are so important.

This is why I continually encourage everyone to build a trusted network. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is #EmbraceEquity. Equal opportunities are not good enough. We all have different approaches and true inclusion requires equitable actions.

Post pandemic, we are at a critical point in time to demonstrate to organisations around the world the benefits from a focus on the ethical, environmental, social and governance issues we all care about.

At the heart of any transformation are people, and by putting people first we will meet the very real challenges the world is facing. Adaptive, collaborative leadership styles which prioritise emotional engagement, empathy, innovation and creativity build sustainable organisations. We add value via collaborative approaches, actions and language.

Gender equality is one of the UN’s life enhancing sustainability development goals. It is seen as a fundamental human right and a foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.

Women are natural born leaders

Throughout the world men tend to occupy 65%-95% of leadership roles yet:

  • 65% of employees would swap a pay increase for a replacement boss
  • 75% quit due to their boss
  • Studies indicate that toxic leaders have a pervasive and negative influence on turnover, salary, and productivity
  • 84% of workers report persistent stress
  • Fewer than 20% of boards feel confident of effectively addressing leadership issues

Business cases have continually shown female participation in boards boosts performance once a minimum threshold has been achieved. When we raise up women we raise up all genders, we raise the tide for everyone. This is not about women versus men it is about equity for all. So that everyone has better working conditions.

In short, organisations with a higher proportion of women in senior leadership roles perform better. Greater gender parity brings diversity to leadership approaches.

When we embrace, and use, our differences we make better decisions and when we make better decisions in health and safety, we have the ability to save more lives and reduce cases of ill health.

We each have a unique blend of skills and strengths which have been shaped by our life experiences. Feminine traits of empathy, collaboration, compassion and high emotional intelligence create more satisfied workforces and more successful organisations.

Women are natural born leaders with the ability to take those around them on a journey of transformation.

Research by Harvard Business Review women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities which differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones. The top five of these were women’s ability to:

  1. Take Initiative
  2. Be resilient
  3. Practice continued self-development
  4. Drive for results
  5. Maintain high standards of integrity and honesty.

Great things are rarely achieved by one person. Engaged teams can achieve extraordinary things and teams working around the world, utilising modern leadership skills which put people first really can change the world. It can start with just one conversation at a time. #EmbraceEquity

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