by Magdalena Nowicka Mook
The gender gap in the workplace is decreasing, and that is good news. However, the decrease is incremental, especially when it comes to leadership roles. Progress is slow, even in nonprofits, where female employees are the majority of the workforce. The gap is also present in the salaries men and women earn for similar roles at top-tier nonprofit organizations — women earn raises averaging 4.9%, while men receive increases of 8.4%.
The gap is not due to a shortage of women striving toward leadership roles. According to research commissioned by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and New York University’s George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, 72% of women in nonprofits under age 35 and 64% of women ages 35-44 said they wanted to hold leadership positions.
Only 7% of women who didn’t aspire to be leaders said they believed themselves incapable of doing the job. Rather, they cited time commitment (55%) and too much stress (44%) as their top reasons for not pursuing leadership roles. Investing in women’s professional growth through third-party resources can help reduce this gender gap, add value to organizations and provide women with the tools to unlock their potential.
How can nonprofit organizations make it happen? Tapping into leadership coaching for women, providing opportunities for professional development and cultivating policies that support inclusivity can help.
Women who experience professional coaching demonstrate long-term and measurable success, according to research by our organization. Some career coaches even specialize in leadership development for women and/or leadership development in nonprofits. Further, implementing a coaching culture across the organization can encourage the entire team to build a culture where gender issues become less prominent and women are more empowered to grow and succeed.
A professional coach can help women strengthen their leadership skills and better navigate a complicated work culture. Coaching can increase self-awareness, help clients define their leadership styles and increase self-confidence. A coach is also a partner in setting goals, mapping the way to accomplish them and setting accountability checkpoints.
By providing educational opportunities, such as workshops and seminars, organizations can improve understanding about the gender gap in nonprofits across their full teams. For example, they can invite women in internal leadership positions to speak about their experience and engage other women who are eager to grow.
Having interactive experiences will help women learn the right tools to deliver the best results and to be inspired by the success of their female colleagues and peers.
According to Northwestern University, people are more likely to hire candidates who are similar to themselves, so women may be more likely to hire other women and pay female employees more than their male counterparts in CEO positions. Thus, beginning to bring in more female leadership can have a trickle-down effect and continue to improve gender equity even more over time.
Organizations can use this to their advantage to help ensure fairer practices and policies. For example, a more inclusive hiring process could require that at least one woman is among the decision makers for open positions in leadership (and at every level). They can also ensure women are included among the seriously considered candidates for those positions.
Closing The Gender Gap In Nonprofits
Although the gender gap is incrementally becoming narrower, nonprofits still have work to do to level the playing field. Coaching and setting examples are approaches that can be used to help support and develop the growth of women in leadership at nonprofit organizations.
Closing the gender gap means more opportunities for nonprofits to grow and capitalize on the benefits women can bring as decision makers and strategic leaders for the success of the entire enterprise.