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Why Aren’t More CEOs Women? 4 Ways Corporations Can Clear The Path.

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Why Aren’t More CEOs Women? 4 Ways Corporations Can Clear The Path.

While more women are rising to the top of the corporate ladder, a question persists: Why do female  CEOs still comprise a small percentage of the highest leadership positions?
Research underscores women’s capabilities as corporate leaders and their positive effects on organizations. An extensive worldwide survey showed that having women at the C-suite level significantly increases profit margins. And a study by the Harvard Business Review reported women scoring higher than men in most leadership skills.
But research also partly sheds light on why women aren’t proportionately represented in corporate leadership roles. Reasons include male-dominated corporate boards and leadership stereotypes. Not to mention that women, in addition to having the bulk of at-home family responsibilities, can be seen as threatening to men when in leadership positions.
How can more women ascend to executive positions? Andreas Wilderer, author of Lean On: The Five Pillars Of Support For Women In Leadership, says it starts at home with a supportive husband willing to take on more of a household role while not worrying about reverse stereotypes – the stay-at-home dad or secondary breadwinner.
“Even though society is getting used to strong women in the workplace, men who take care of the house and kids are still often seen as an oddity,” Wilderer says. “Old attitudes in society fade slowly, as many still believe that each sex should keep its place.”
“In many families, however, that place is changing. Change tends to begin not in the big arenas, but in small places. And change starts within the family unit – long before many corporations and institutions recognize what is happening. Now more and more men are proudly accepting the role of staying home to fully support their wives and their career pursuits, and it’s time more companies were supportive of women in well-earned leadership roles.”
Wilderer suggests four ways companies can make leadership opportunities more accessible to women:
-Gender equality training. “With evidence proving that women make excellent leaders,” Wilderer says, “it is clear that not having these qualified individuals in leadership positions is a detriment to your business. Gender equality training within a company is a transformative process that enables women to be assessed on the basis of their skills, not restricted from upward movement by their gender.”
-Gender equality training 2.0. Wilderer says normal bias training needs to go an extra step, emphasizing how companies can show support for male partners and the family of the female leader. For example, when companies sponsor events such as dinners for employees, they often buy gifts for spouses attending. Wilderer says an important cultural shift can occur in the form of a gift. “It’s a cultural shift to not assume that the spouse of a leader is a female,” Wilderer says. “You can no longer make that assumption. Companies should make the gifts gender-neutral, emphasizing the importance of the supportive spousal role.”
-Recruiting. A company’s commitment to promote women’s advancements from within starts in the recruiting process. “Recruiting women on the premises of equal opportunity provisions is the first step to help women rise to important positions,” Wilderer says. “Organizations should issue meaningful equality plans to absorb women members in proportion to men.”
-Career-mapping. “Organizations should have an effective career-mapping plan in place for female employees,” Wilderer says. “Being aware of higher-level opportunities within the organization and the path required to achieve them helps women to set out clearer plans for attaining these roles.”
“Ingrained attitudes take years to evolve into acceptance,” Wilderer says. “Acceptance starts with simple gestures like the gifts but has to go much further – flexible hours, provided daycare, a partial home office. As far as women have come in the corporate structure, there are still too many barriers, and too few of them get to fulfill their potential as leaders.”
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Andreas Wilderer (andreaswilderer.com) is the author of Lean On: The Five Pillars Of Support For Women in Leadership. A business leader and entrepreneur, Wilderer worked in the event and marketing field. As Gallup-certified CliftonStrengths Coach he founded GLOBULARiTY LLC, a business coaching company that helps leaders grow and learn how to strengthen their Adaptability Quotient (AQ). While working on his business pursuits, Wilderer stayed at home and cared for his two children while his wife pursued her career. Recognizing that women can be providers and men can be nurturers, Wilderer began focusing on coaching female leaders while teaching men how to actively support them. As a motivational Keynote speaker, he is advocating for females in leadership and the system they can Lean On.

Women in Logistics: Kim Maready, VP of Accounting and Finance, Old Dominion Freight Line

When it comes to exemplary leadership, Old Dominion – a leading provider in LTL and transportation logistics, takes implementing its core values of integrity and greatness to the next level. Through its strong relationships both externally with its customers and internally with each individual working for the company, these values are what keep its employees working towards the Old Dominion vision. With her passion for mentoring and leadership, Kim Maready, Vice President of Accounting and Finance for the company, is a prime example of the way Old Dominion takes her position in leadership one step further by shaping employees through a fresh, unique approach. It was this very approach combined with the culture at Old Dominion that ultimately peaked her interest to join the team in 2014.

“I think the Old Dominion culture places a tremendous amount of value on its people. It is a family-oriented culture and once you join the family, you really feel that. I felt that as an outside service provider. They not only cared about their own success, but they cared about my success as a provider,” she said. “A lot of other large public companies haven’t found that magic really. It’s all about the business and I think that comes through the profitability, or lack thereof, of some companies because ODFL recognizes that it’s profitable because of its people and the amount that they give to our customers every single day.”

Kim has served Old Dominion for five years, bringing with her over 20 years of experience in the middle market Fortune 1,000 space. Prior to her onboarding with Old Dominion, she worked as a partner. It was through her time serving the company that convinced her the Old Dominion culture was different.

“They were a client of mine for six years, so I knew the company well, the leadership team well, their environment, and core values. I spent time serving a lot of different companies across a lot of different industries from banking to manufacturing, to retail, consumer products, technology, and other transportation companies,” she said. “What interested me in Old Dominion was the culture – the leadership team, the value they place on their people, and the integrity that’s here at the company.”

In her role as VP of Accounting and Finance, she does a lot more than oversee the financials. Mrs. Maready takes her passion for mentorship and aims to create a strong team that feels valued and respected by challenging them to take their ideas and concerns to the leadership team. Old Dominion prides itself in its “Open-Door” Policy that gives every person at the company a voice. This approach bolsters the company’s vision to create the next generation of employees that carry on the core values of integrity, honesty, and transparency while managing risks. This policy serves as another differentiator among competitors.

“If you’re trying to innovate and get processes that aren’t working anymore to change, and you’re having roadblocks with those changes or don’t know where to take your ideas, you can come in to any of these 20 or so people and have a discussion and get action around that discussion while having someone that can champion it with their authority or help remove those roadblocks. I think that really mitigates a lot of our risk and it really is unique to this organization. I’ve seen a lot of companies and I haven’t heard of other companies embracing that quite like we do,” she adds.

Beyond the company’s robust customer base and successful operations, Old Dominion boasts a large organization of employees that value excellence day in and out. It’s through these valued employees that Old Dominion serves its customers while creating competitive advantage. The value Old Dominion places in its employees follows the wise saying from Richard Branson: “Whatever industry a company is in, its employees are its biggest competitive advantage.”

“In the short term it’s my responsibility and my team’s responsibility to really grow the next generation of leaders and to help them understand our culture, our core values of integrity, and ensure that we have the right leaders in place two decades down the road from now to maintain the culture and the unique environment that we have. It’s beyond just looking at the debits and the credits that some expect us to be talking about and thinking about every day,” she added.

Kimberly S. Maready currently serves as Principal Accounting Officer for Old Dominion Freight Line, Inc., a position she has held since May of 2017. Mrs. Maready joined ODFL in February of 2014 as the Vice President – Accounting and Finance and is responsible for directing ODFL’s accounting operations, financial reporting, payroll, tax and financial planning. Prior to joining ODFL, Mrs. Maready spent 21 years with Ernst & Young LLP, including 9 years as partner in the Assurance and Advisory Services practice. Her finance and accounting experience spans across multiple sectors including banking, retail, technology and transportation. Mrs. Maready holds an accounting degree from North Carolina State University and is a licensed CPA in the state of North Carolina. She has served as an active board member of Goodwill of Central North Carolina and the Winston-Salem Children’s Museum and the advisory boards of N.C. State’s Poole College of Management and Appalachian State University’s Walker School of Business.