By Marcus Leach
Promoting more women to the top jobs in business would help make the planet a better place, according to a leadership expert.
Niamh O’Keeffe says that the world would benefit from having more senior women running corporations and countries and following in the footsteps of high profile appointments like US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts and newly appointed head of the International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde.
O’Keeffe believes in the theory that women are biologically programmed to care more about the implications of their actions on others, they can see the bigger picture and are more aware of the greater good they can do while in power.
O’Keeffe echoed the views of the Dalai Lama, who on his visit to the United States to meet President Obama, supported calls for more women to occupy the top leadership positions, declaring his belief that women are “more sensitive to suffering”.
“If we believe that our leaders — whether in business or government — should be thinking about their leadership legacy to the world and not just their own more self-centred agenda, then it is undoubtedly the case that the world would benefit from a greater number of female leaders," O’Keeffe said.
“Truly great leadership should be about far more than the short term financial bottom line.
“Our CEOs, Prime Ministers, Presidents and other senior figures are only at the very top for a relatively short time. If they truly want to be remembered for doing greater good then it is vital they use this precious time to help influence and change the lives of those people less fortunate than themselves.”
O’Keeffe says CEOs are so obsessed with narrow organisational interests and quarterly performance targets that most, if not all, are failing to spot opportunities for even bigger commercial and reputational wins in which everyone in their industry and the world can benefit.
She says that CEOs are missing out on initiating leadership legacy projects that could include combining their commercial interests with improving world literacy rates, tackling poverty, improving water supplies, combating climate change or creating a new generation of business leaders at home and abroad.
“There is a lot of noise about the urgent need to tackle the gender disparity in the boardroom, but the real change needs to be at CEO level and the faster the better. Once more women are given the opportunity at the highest level, it is not just the boardroom that will benefit, but the planet as a whole,” O’Keeffe added.
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