How are women leading the way in corporate learning and development?
For generations, women have had to strive to make their voices heard at the workplace. Socio-economic constraints, lack of quality education, uneven representation in leadership and a corporate glass ceiling that always seemed tough to break have kept women out of contention for an equal share of the workspace pie.
Even in today’s modern times, disparities exist between opportunities provided to men and women. A recent study conducted by Pew Research Centre shows that in 2018, women employees earned only 85 percent of what their male peers took home. Back home in India, the gender pay gap in the country's corporate sector alone stood at 27 percent as of 2018.
But times are changing, slowly and steadily.
“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” - Benjamin Franklin
The first step towards growth always lies in possessing the right knowledge about that path. Similarly, in the course of charting their career upwards, women first and foremost need access to knowledge. This needs to be shared in a manner that women feel comfortable to access it and find it relevant for their growth.
It is only when they have access to quality information and ways to decipher it that women can march ahead towards leadership roles in organisations. And sectors like Corporate Learning and Development have a huge role to play in this.
To begin with, women need to be aware of the learning and development opportunities available for them in their workspace. A survey by D2L on gaps in learning and training in workplaces showed that only 48 percent of women had access to online learning platforms at their company. Though that number leaves a lot of room for improvement, results have been on the positive side in recent years.
A report from Grant Thornton showed that in India’s corporate world, the percentage of women in leadership positions went up to 20 percent in 2018.
Feeling a palpable lack of diversity and presence of women in their workforce, organisations around the world have started to plan women-specific learning and development programmes. In a recent international survey, over 300 companies were asked and over 59 percent of them claimed they ran women-specific learning and development programmes. Large enterprises were leading the way in setting the tone, with around 79 percent of them taking active measures in introducing L&D programmes with a key focus on women.
While women-centric L&D programmes are key to growth and impact, equally important are the teachers who are imparting this knowledge.
When it comes to leadership roles and more impactful presence within the corporate learning and development sector, women are at a more commanding position. Data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics in 2018 showed that around 58.5 percent of training managers in organisations are women. When compared to a 40 percent presence in other functions, Learning and Development looks like a field where women are marching ahead confidently.
So, what are the key traits that have led to women slowly but steadily taking the lead in Corporate Learning and Development? To list a few:
An innate sense of empathy plays a crucial part in a field like corporate learning and development. And the Gallup Poll in 2016 shows that women outscore their male colleagues in observing more keenly, empathising, and understanding the potential for development that other employees foster.
Inspired by Growth
Female trainers and teachers in corporate settings often find job satisfaction in the careers they support. When people around them learn from then and grow in the organisation, that’s when women leaders have been found to be at their best.
When set with the agenda for crafting paths of learning and development for an entire organisation, pathos and passion can be the biggest persuasive forces. When your employees see a genuine passion for the project in its leaders, they are prone to invest themselves more into it. And thanks to an inherent sense of humility and empathy, women corporate trainers can craft more persuasive points to convince teams.
Instinct towards initiative
A Harvard Business Review report shows that women outscore men in the skill of taking initiatives. Female trainers and leaders in an organisation are more open to taking small risks and initiating something new - be it a conversation, thought, project, or a major plan.
Areas like education, corporate learning, and development continue to be fields where women find the lack of support less glaring than other sectors. With a respectable presence in numbers in these areas and a requirement of skills that they foster and genuinely champion, women have taken leaps and strides in corporate learning and development. And a strong set of women teachers in the corporate field is sure to support the growth of the next generation of fearless female leaders.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)