Congratulations to be Emma Walmsley who was recently appointed as GSK’s new Chief Executive. It’s definitely a step forward for diversity when yet another woman makes it to a leadership role – even more so when that company is a Fortune 500. She now joins 23 other women who are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. But wait a minute – that’s only 4.8% of Fortune 500 CEOs being represented by women? Shouldn’t there be more women in senior leadership roles?

The need to have more women in senior leadership roles has been talked about (and maybe even actioned) for decades now and yet the number is so dismal. Some companies say female attrition is the culprit. Some say the pressure of work is too overbearing. Yet others feel women aren’t able to balance domestic and professional life which is why they aren’t able to make it to the top. In reality, and quite unfortunately, while there’s been “talk” about it for decades, there hasn’t been much done to facilitate women’s path to the senior leadership roles.

Women Make Great Executives

There’s no doubting it anymore – women are definitely great executives. I’m not saying they’ll always come out better than men, but it’s been proven that women just are that good. So anyone saying that women aren’t cut out for the job need to seriously check their facts and rethink their beliefs.

Having said that, and hopefully gaining some believers, what’s next? You could do these, among other initiatives:

  • Creating more opportunities for women to climb the corporate ladder
  • Invest more in grooming, developing and promoting women

What’s Being Done Isn’t Enough

While we hear of women being appointed as CEOs, I keep wondering how much is being done to populate women lower down the pyramid. Is there a sizeable representation of women in the next tier?

A good and successful leader is supported by a strong team at the second tier. They are the CEO’s most trusted, relied upon and close advisors that drive the company towards success and growth. You could go as far as saying that while the CEO has all the spotlight upon them, the second tier of senior leadership has most of the power. Why’s that? Mainly because they’re responsible for the strategy’s execution, the fine-tuning of the strategy, and a lot of times even the strategy’s conception. Their role is pivotal to a company’s success.

So while it’s great that women are climbing to the top most corporate position, are there enough in the second role? Are there enough opportunities being provided to women to succeed and make it to that level? There’s more than can be done. I’d love to see more women in senior leadership roles sitting at management meetings, discussing the company’s big plans and supporting and advising the CEO.