A recent study conducted by the talent management firm Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com revealed that we will have fewer female CEOs in the future. It showed that people who identified as female and/or as a millennial fell behind those who identified as male and/or a generation Xer in their ambition to be a CEO.
What needs to be asked in this situation is where and why women want to lead rather than if they really want to lead. Women favor to take charge in the nonprofit sector because they believe they can make a difference. According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s 2014 “Untapped Potential of Women in Nonprofits” report, 57% of women in this sector, including 72% of women ages 18 to 34, seek to have the position of CEO. So what are the reasons behind this approach?
First, the nonprofit sector is female-dominated. According to the 2012 “Current State of Women in Leadership” report from the Women’s College of the University of Denver, women form 75% of the nonprofit workforce as opposed to the business world where there are only 20 female CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. Moreover, more women in the nonprofit sector have the opportunity to take the lead from a female predecessor. In addition, this also indicates that more women get the occasion to hire women, to mentor and promote them.
Furthermore, in the nonprofit sector, the work-life balance is also an important issue. A study conducted by The Saba and WorkplaceTrends.com found that “work-life integration” is a priority for both women and millennials. The nonprofit sector offers more flexible hours, more paid holidays, and longer vacation packages usually in exchange for lower salaries than in similar fields. This is an important reason that makes women willing to join the nonprofit workforce.
In addition, it provides women and millennials, a chance to combine passion and work. Also, in the last decade, many universities have established degree plans for Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship, to meet the growing interest in the nonprofit field.
Yet, the top nonprofit leadership roles are still male-dominated. Men still hold 79% of the CEO positions for organizations with $25 million in assets or greater. According to a 2014 GuideStar report, a gender pay gap is still found in this industry as well. This sector has its cons, but women still see it as a good opportunity to lead.
Nevertheless, if we want to have more women as CEOs in the for-profit sector from among the millennial pool, we have to learn from the nonprofit field. There should be more mentoring and role-modeling for young women, improved work-life balance possibilities, and ways for employees to feel they have achieved something in the workforce.
To conclude, both the nonprofit and the for-profit sectors need women to make the community better across the board and to well represent it. When women are given the chance, they can achieve many things…. And we will see more female CEOs in the future.