A study conducted by Frank Recruitment Group showed a small number of Fortune 500 CEOs are women. What can your business do to increase diversity?

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Image: Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock

Research compiled by the Frank Recruitment Group has found that the majority of Fortune 500 companies with a female CEO are typically more profitable than those helmed by a male CEO. According to the findings, 87% of the top 500 companies last year led by a female decision-maker reported above-average profits, compared to just 78% of companies without a female CEO.

“It may be that women do already have leadership roles within your company, and the issue is down to their visibility,” said Zoë Morris, President of Frank Recruitment Group. “Giving employees credit for their work is crucial, as any manager will know, however, making their achievements known within the company can sometimes get overlooked. Try letting their department know when they’ve excelled in their role – whether this is via a group email or a special mention in a meeting.”

Despite companies being led by female CEOs making up the highest percentage of profitable enterprises, just 39 of the 500 companies (0.078%) have a woman in charge. While many companies have made strides towards putting women in positions of power within large corporations, there is still more that can be done.

Three steps businesses can take towards making more diversity at the highest levels of business a reality:

1. Increase the visibility of women

Taking the first step towards real change can be difficult, but with the right processes in place and making teams more inclusive can be a positive first step, says Morris.

“It may seem like an obvious statement, but to build an inclusive team you have to actually build an inclusive team,” Morris said. “When a woman is looking at your leadership team, is she seeing any other women? If not, this could be the thing that stops a female employee from moving up into a senior position, with your business missing out on the value she has to offer as a result.”

SEE: The COVID-19 gender gap: Why women are leaving their jobs and how to get them back to work (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

2. Offer suitable career progression opportunities

Another effort that can be made by enterprises is ensuring that women are able to see the steps to climbing the corporate ladder. By making available which opportunities are available to female employees, those workers can then make any professional development strides needed to work their way up to a position they may want.

“These are such simple questions, but actively putting more thought into the answers can make a massive difference,” Morris said. “Try mapping out their career journey, making sure to include what your employee’s short-term and long-term goals are, as well as any personal circumstances that could affect these. This way you are seamlessly incorporating a focus on these questions into your routine. Once you begin doing this, you will start to see natural–and almost effortless–change.”

3. Promote equality within the workplace

A third and very important step businesses can take is showing that equality in the workplace is something that the company values and is not just lip service. Communicating the proper language is extremely important, says Morris, to whether companies show they are open to promoting diversity and not just talking about doing it.

“Just as people will notice if you aren’t promoting equality within your company, they will notice if you are. If the language used within your workplace communicates sexist stereotypes, regardless of whether this is unintentional, it could discourage female employees from believing they have a fair shot at a C-suite level position,” she said. “Likewise, if the language conveys the opposite, they will be encouraged that gender doesn’t play a factor in the hiring processes. This doesn’t just apply to speech used within general office conversations either. Consider what messages both the textual and visual communications you send out are giving. Even ask other staff members their thoughts on the content. This way you are receiving direct feedback and will know if you are going wrong somewhere.”