The Good, The Bad, The Global: Why We Need Women Leaders Worldwide

It’s not half yet, but it’s pretty darn close.In its annual list of the World’s Greatest Leaders, Fortune magazine applauds the accomplishments of 23 women leaders in the coveted list of 50. That’s 46 percent women on this list of top leaders in government, business, activism and cultural influence. It’s the most women lauded this way ever (a 53 percent jump from last year’s list) when only 15 women made the notable group.And no, Beyonce is not on this one.Kristen Bellstrom writes about the women leaders in Fortune: “After making global headlines, it’s no surprise to see names like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Myanmar NPD party leader Aung San Suu Kyi at No. 2 and No. 3. However, we also saw American female politicians making their mark this year, with South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo making their debut appearances on the list.”She continues, “Interestingly, while the list includes business influencers like Girls Who Code founder Reshma Saujani, no female Fortune 500 leaders made the list.”Acknowledging women leaders globally matters because it affects the economic health of the world.A new McKinsey Global Institute report shows that if women and men were treated equally at work, in policies and more, that it would mean an increase of $28 trillion to the annual global economy by 2025. That by the way, is the same year set as the goal for Take The Lead to reach gender pay equity in the U.S.“We consider a ‘full potential’ scenario in which women participate in the economy identically to men… This impact is roughly equivalent to the size of the combined Chinese and U.S. economies today,” the report states.More from the McKinsey report: “We also analyzed an alternative ‘best in region’ scenario in which all countries match the progress toward gender parity of the fastest-improving country in their region. This would add as much as $12 trillion in annual 2025 GDP, equivalent in size to the current GDP of Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined, or twice the likely growth in global GDP contributed by female workers between 2014 and 2025 in a business-as-usual scenario.”The report goes beyond data collection about women leaders in the workplace to recommend specific steps. “Six types of intervention are necessary to bridge the gender gap: financial incentives and support; technology and infrastructure; the creation of economic opportunity; capability building; advocacy and shaping attitudes; and laws, policies, and regulations.“We identify some 75 potential interventions that could be evaluated and tailored to suit the social and economic context of each impact zone and country. [bctt tweet=“Tackling gender inequality will require change within businesses as well as new coalitions.”] The private sector will need to play a more active role in concert with governments and nongovernmental organizations, and companies could benefit both directly and indirectly by taking action.”Doing just that—taking action— and speaking at the recent Global Leadership Forum on female leadership at the World Culture Festival in New Delhi, the Hon. Ms. Meenakshi Lekhi, Member of Parliament, India, said: [bctt tweet=““Difficulties of women remain global. It’s everywhere; leadership roles are limited for women.””] Lekhi added, “It’s not about women speaking to women for equality; it should be men who should be discussing this…Nothing is served to women on platters.”Also speaking at the forum was Bhanu Narsimhan, Director of Women and Child Welfare at the Art of Living Foundation who spoke about female empowerment and teh need for more women leaders. “Aggressiveness is often associated with leadership. However, it may not be most effective. Assertiveness in combination with humility is the key.” She added, “While passion and focus are important for a leader, flexibility is also needed. Flexibility— not in ideologies, but as seen in the ability to be natural and without any ego.”According to The Financial Express, in India there has been a “50 percent rise in the number of women entrepreneurs between the years 2014 and 2015 with this segment receiving a cumulative investment of $168 million in the year.”Anvita Mehra, founder and CEO of Confidential Couture, said, “We are living in a world where women are getting empowered by the day. My experience as an entrepreneur has not been that difficult. If we walk with utmost confidence, nothing will stop us.”Unless specific policies, strategies and effective practices are put in place worldwide, the disparities of women in the workplace will remain, according to participants at a recent conference from the World Bank, UN Women, the International Monetary Fund and the International Labour Organisation. The Guardian reports these groups are “producing an action plan to improve women’s economic opportunities over the next 15 years.”Speaking on the panel was Rachel Noble, women’s rights policy adviser at ActionAid: “It’s absolutely critical they pay attention to the fundamental structural issues blocking women from participating in the economy.” She added, “The biggest role companies can play is ensuring women have access to decent work, paying a living wage, giving them secure contracts, and ensuring their right to form unions and engage in collective bargaining.”Moving ahead to make that happen at J. Walter Thompson, Co., a global leader in advertising and marketing, is brand spanking new CEO Tamara Ingram, who recently told a group in London: “Top of my agenda is diversity and inclusiveness. Not only is it going to be top of my agenda, it’s going to be top of all my executives’ agendas and top of every country manager’s agenda.“Perhaps Ingram can have a sit down with the creators of the “Hot Tech” Talent ads running in London subways and across Germany. The posters show a reclining woman lying on the floor in a suggestive pose, because we imagine the ad creators envisioned that is where the best job interviews take place.But sexualized and inappropriate images of women seem to be the  norm. The images of working women in advertising, websites, corporate materials and more are out of whack with reality, contends Lucy Kellaway writing in Irish Times.  She muses, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a photograph that captures what real working women actually look like.”