Female empowerment

How to Create a Culture of Female Empowerment in a Male Dominated Industry

Empowering women into key decision making roles is a critical part of business strategy. Here’s how to create a culture of female empowerment, especially in those industries dominated by men.

It may no longer come as a surprise that Fortune 1000 companies with female CEOs perform better than those who have men ecsonsced at their head and yet the number of female CEOs is still drastically outweighed by their male counterparts.

With such compelling evidence at hand, such as the Mckinsey “Women Matter” research and MSCI’s “Women on Boards” study which proves irrefutably that companies run by women outperform those run by men, building a culture of female empowerment can no longer be viewed as a token gesture at meeting ‘diversity’ KPIs by management. Empowering women into key decision making roles has to become a critical part of a business strategy if that business does in fact want to thrive in today’s commercial marketplace.

Based on this research and my own experience as Chief Operating Officer of major real estate franchise Stockdale & Leggo and other male dominated workplaces, I place a significant amount of importance on creating a culture within my own organisation where women feel empowered to put themselves forward as franchisees or step into senior roles. As a result, I have set a goal within my business to achieve a 50/50 gender split amongst our franchisees by 2020 as I see this as a very effective strategy to future proof my business and ensure its success long after I’ve hung up my boots.

Creating a culture of female empowerment doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen easily. It’s a process and it takes an inordinate amount of time and effort, but I believe it to be worth it.

Here are my tips on how to create a culture which empowers women within a male dominated industry.

Cut the chaff

I had to make some tough decisions from the outset including making the call to move the entire management team on. Even though it was a big risk to take, it was the best decision I ever made. They weren’t the leaders I needed within the business to move the company towards a culture of female empowerment. The cost of keeping them would have been maintaining a toxic culture within the business and not being authentic to what I truly knew needed to happen.

Female friendly policies

Women, if and when they choose to have children, will need to move into motherhood often in lieu of their careers and often for lengthy periods. This can hinder their career trajectory and disadvantage them in the workplace. I’d like to point out, women who have children in no way have less ambition than those who don’t. Sometimes they have more. But what is important is ensuring that a business implements female friendly policies to help them remain on track with their career goals, without losing momentum while on maternity leave, and even offer remote working or part-time options to help them return to work in a manner that works for them.

Facilitate connection

In my opinion, female colleagues are your biggest allies and it’s critical we support each other in our quest for capitalising on and realising career opportunities. I recommend establishing a regular event or networking opportunity for women within your organisation to form genuine connections. Another woman supporting you in achieving your dreams can be your most powerful asset. It’s for this exact reason I established the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ initiative which holds an annual event for women in our industry to come together, listen to the inspirational stories from other female leaders and to meet others who share similar experiences.

Regardless of your role or the industry in which you work, the key ingredient for any culture to be ingrained with female empowerment is that women must help amplify each other’s voices and shine a light on each other’s contributions. As an individual we are easy to overlook, but as a collective of strong and powerful voices, we cannot be ignored.


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Anna Thomas is the Chief Operating Officer of major Australian real estate network, Stockdale & Leggo. She was recognised as a Telstra Business Women’s Awards Finalist in the Corporate and Private Award in 2016, a 2017 Finalist in the Real Estate Business Awards ‘Industry Thought Leader of the Year’ Award and a Bronze Stevie winner in the Woman of the Year category in the 2017 International Business Awards. She is also the Founder and Brand Ambassador of the ‘Empowered Women in Real Estate’ initiative, a community empowering women to believe in themselves and step forward into leadership roles.

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