In Our 'Age of Innovation' - Women Are In the Driver's Seat
It's 2017. We have embraced innovation as a part of our lifestyle. On-demand platforms, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, 3D printing, self-driving cars. You name it. Innovation is already redefining our personal and professional spaces. With an increased emphasis on creating consumer-driven, inclusive and disruptive workforce, companies are now transforming their internal processes to grow and scale demands of this ever-evolving digital age.
More than simply a buzzword, innovation has become the need of the hour: used to streamline
decisions, simplify time-consuming functions, enhance end-user experience, leverage resources, form productive teams and most importantly, to communicate. Amidst of it all, women are at the forefront of driving innovation and are achieving end-user objectives.
Women influence close to $20 trillion in end-user spending. That being said, they sadly occupy only a small percentage of global workforce, especially in the top management. This creates a disparity and often results in misaligned business strategy that falls short of resonating with end-user needs and improving profit margins. Yet many studies have found companies with women in leadership positions to be financially and strategically well placed and profitable. A nonprofit organization, Catalyst, reported the positive effect women innovators and leaders have on overarching strategy of companies offering innovation-driven services, further proving the point.
To demonstrate the difference women leaders make, let’s first understand how innovation is sustained. Innovation involves taking risks, embracing fail often, fail fast, fail cheap approach, building cohesive teams and enabling consumer-centric initiatives. It thrives in an open and responsive environment not bound by cultural and hierarchical dispositions. It becomes an integral process when organizations start to prioritize collective intelligence. Leaders who are empathetic, self-aware, inclusive, insightful and supportive tend to develop culturally- and socially-sensitive perspective. This helps them drive innovation by encouraging and nurturing the right talent.
Women – with their capability to adapt – play a crucial role in bringing organizational innovation to their workspace. They are better disposed to lead and, in turn, produce substantial return on investment and sales. They know the right set of skills essential to drive innovation forward in a female-centric consumer market.
Women often follow collaborative leadership style that emphasizes on openmindedness and inclusion. They promote communication and take relationship-based approach in their work-related projects. Women are knowledgeable and are motivated by how meaningful their work is.
Moreover, women are less likely to encourage competition. This helps other counterparts in mixed-gender teams to be creative, interact in a more informal manner, build mutual trust and perform better. One study found the presence of women team members to increase the collective intelligence of the team and helped them achieve goals with a productive mindset. Because women are sensitive to social dynamics and possess emotional intelligence, they understand the importance of listening and try to initiate engaging conversations. These abilities allow them to tap into their and their team’ strength and skill-set to create newer products, opportunities and markets.
WIth that in mind, a lack of role models might just become a thing of the past as bolder and smarter women take upon the task to transform the innovation ecosystem and subsequently challenge the male-dominated corporate world. Women are increasingly occupying top management to better facilitate information sharing crucial to lead this age of innovation. And as we become more forward-thinking, women will continue to break the barriers to create a truly diverse and collaborative workforce.
What a time to be alive.
Sphoorti Bhandare is a PR consultant and blogger with heart of a digital nomad. She completed her Bachelors in Electronics before pursuing Masters in Public Relations in New York. She lives to explore, dance, read and dream. Sphoorti is usually found making whipped cold coffee, planning her next destination, mastering Zumba and binging on PR and social media trends.