The deficiency factor of women leadership in corporate management: gender issue

Today the role of women in corporate management is underestimated. This article gives a vivid example how the presence of women can change the adequate development of corporate management. The case was taken from the leading company from the ‘Big Four’ – Deloitte. The individual women success is also well-described from professional view along with the scholar one. Analysis of scholars brings the firm situation of women in leadership position, what the obstacles are that may be seen as the challenge to pass through along with advantages and disadvantages. The main point in this article made to adhere the organisational culture to support the women in the question of leadership in corporate management. 

Based on research by Oliver, Rust, and Varki (1997), in the last thirty years there has been a surge in focus on the trained professional services subdivision. Their research attributes this increase in attention to specialists in the professional and scholastic field realising that nearly every progressive economy shows both signs of moving towards more professional services, as well as increased interest in professional service sector’s economic effects. In more industrialised countries, the professional services sector has quickly risen to be both in the top most important and large sectors (Korczynski 2002; Lovelock & Wirtz 2007; Sun, Aryee and Law 2007). Bitner and Brown (2008) also give evidence that show its becoming essential in the economies of less developed countries as well. In today’s economic world, service excellence has become an important business tactic (Gould-Williams 1999). Due to the abundance of competition amongst business today, the simple consumer satisfaction report is not enough. It can neither give a clear reflection of reliability nor future patronage (Schnieder and Bowen 1999) [1].

‘Despite the fact that women constitute approximately one half of potential workforce, they are still underrepresented in leadership positions. In 2011, in particular, women occupied 16.1% of board seats in large companies of the United States compared with 15.7% in 2010 (Catalyst 2011). In accordance with 2011 Catalyst Census: Fortune 500 Companies, ‘in both 2010 and 2011, less than one-fifth of companies had 25 percent or more women directors, while about one-tenth had no women serving on their boards’ (Catalyst 2011 p. 1). These figures are related to at least three important notions. Firstly, that so called ‘glass ceiling’ effect, which has been introduced by Wall Street Journal, exists ‘as an invisible but powerful barrier that allows women to advance only to a certain level’ (Carli and Eagly 2001 p. 630). This concept was widely theorised and empirically evidenced by psychologists (Grout et al. 2007). Secondly, ‘leaking pipeline’ theory also confirms that the number of female leaders declines the higher the position becomes (PricewaterhouseCoopers 2008). Thirdly, it means that ‘discrimination due to gender affects the largest population group and workplace discrimination is most apparent in the areas of job recruitment, promotion, remuneration and job assignment’ (Harel et al. 2003 p. 249). So, in the next paragraph of the report, the significance of encouraging of women into the leadership positions will be considered (Bopiyeva, 2013)’ [2].

Bopiyeva (2013) states: ‘Astin and Leland, cited in Aldoory and Toth (2004 p. 158), define leadership ‘as activity aimed at bringing about change in an organisation or social system to improve people’s life’. McWhinney, also being cited in Aldoory and Toth (2004) thinks, that leadership styles constitute the basis of current leadership theories, and that the most deliberated leadership styles are transactional and transformational leadership. Buchanan and Huczynski (2010 p. 617) emphasize, that ‘transactional leaders see their relationships with followers in terms of trade, swaps or bargains’, and that ‘transformational leaders are charismatic individuals who inspire and motivate others to perform ‘beyond contract’’. It must be noted, that transformational leadership is recognized as the most popular in terms of conformity to challenges of globalization because it involves the following ‘Four Is’:

  • Intellectual stimulation: encourage others to see what they are doing from new
  • Idealized influence: articulate the mission or vision of the
  • Individualized consideration: develop others to higher levels of
  • Inspirational motivation: motivate others to put organizational interests before self-interest (Buchanan and Huczynski 2010 618).

Eagly and Johannesen-Schmidt (2001p. 791) have found out that women manifest ‘idealized influence, inspirational motivation, and individualized consideration’ more than men. ‘In contrast, men exceeded women on the transactional scales’ (Eagly and Johannesen-Schmidt 2001 p. 793). It means that women’s leadership style can raise the effectiveness of organisations in contemporary changing environment. Moreover, in accordance with current globalized trends toward flatter organisational structures and toward team-based management women’s leadership style should benefit organisations (Appelbaum et al. 2003, Powel 2002,)’ argued by Bopiyeva (2013) [2].

Jackson (2001) in relation to the barriers, which prevent women’s promotion to leadership positions, asserts that they are rooted in corporate culture. She describes corporate culture as a ‘pattern of basic assumptions developed as a group or organization learns to cope with environment’ (Jackson 2001 p. 31) according to scholar Bopiyeva (2013).

Academician Bopiyeva (2013) analyses that ‘the most contemporary organisations’ cultures have adopted the perception that a leader is associated with male gender while the follower - with female one. These stereotypes serve as a barrier and create negative attitudes toward a woman in power position (Appendix C). Scholars also note some barriers for women to share benefits of informal networking (e.g. ‘old boy’ network). Gender related biases in corporate cultures might bring to low ranks in supervisors’ evaluations of female employees. In addition to it, there is a tendency to delegate less significant or routine projects to women. Moreover, there are some issues related to personal style. For example, women's socialized linguistic style (that is: asking more than ordering) which are often evaluated negatively. Similar obstacles are met in the field of professional style. Indeed, if a woman tries to act more aggressively like a man, such kind of behaviour is usually evaluated negatively. And if she tries to act like a female leader, it is again evaluated negatively as weakness and ineffectiveness. (Jackson 2001) [2].

Bickel (2002) shows how the leadership development culture concept was implemented by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). AAMC, in particular, recognizes a great role of department chairs (which can be seen as managers) to develop female faculty. There are special requirements for them: to suggest succession plans, which are aimed to remove glass ceilings for women and minorities; to facilitate diversity; to use the assistance of organisational development experts and ombudspersons. AAMC established awards for chairs that succeeded in the department diversity sphere. Annual reports are used to evaluate organisational initiatives in this sphere. Another AAMC initiative is related to offering advising and mentoring programs for female junior faculty. For reaching this objective AAMC publishes special handbooks for mentors and facilitates the procedure of mentor’s evaluation. It is interesting that AAMC has identified that women faculty is often involved into ‘soft science’ (research on prevention), while grants are more available in ‘hard science' (related to ‘discovery’)’ (Bopiyeva, 2013) [2].

Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited is huge business company with professional services network in the world by revenue and by the number of professionals. Deloitte offers audit, tax, consulting, enterprise risk and financial advisory services with more than 200,000 professionals in over 150 countries. By the end of the day it is a real question, what type of people might be most effective for the professional services network as Deloitte. Due to the nature of Deloitte’s services, which includes audits, taxes, and related finance services, employees are expected to meet the psychologically relevant requirements ( 2013) [3].

Samar (female) is an employee at the Capital Projects Advisory (“CPA”), which is part of Deloitte Financial Advisory Services in Dubai. The organisation is responsible for preparing consultative financial services to development, land, infrastructure, and oil and gas companies in the gulf region countries such as the UAE, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Samar’s job gives her access to a diverse array of client managements. These include those in junior and senior management positions that may give advice on different financial, operational, and commercial problems. Samar is responsible for interviewing those working in management. She also is expected to give reports, analysis financial and commercial statistics, and prepare and give proposals and presentations. Samar also helps to build and maintain strong inter- and intra-organisational relationships. Due to her involvement with Deloitte’s emergence in the region, Samar was able to experience different high profile interactions as well as have the chance to work with international offices. Samar has worked on some important assignments, where her involvement has had a worldwide influence. She has worked on the region’s largest restructuring project. Samar has also worked on projects in real estate, law, government branches, oil and gas companies ( 2013) [3].

Organisational citizenship behaviour- individuals (OCBI) describe behaviours geared towards colleagues. Organisational Citizenship Behaviour-organisational (OCBO) is more focused on behaviours directed towards the entire organisation. Examples of OCBIs are non-self-beneficial kindness and manners. Behaviours which are beneficial to the organisation, such as diligence, civic virtue, and fairness, are classified are OCBOs. There are no studies that give complete conceptualisations of the attitudes towards jobs (Chen and Francesco 2003; Cichy, Cha and Kim 2009) in relation to how to the collaborative tasks of organisational commitment (OC) and job satisfaction (JS) affect employees’ behaviour [4]. Based on the importance of job attitudes in understanding OCB (Konovsky and Organ 1996; Organ and Ryan 1995; Podsakoff et al., 2000) and the link between JS and OC, it may be concluded that both JS and OC are needed in order to have a complete idea of employees’ behaviour (Ackfeldt and Wong, 2006; Bettencourt and Brown, 1997). OCBs help add to an organisation’s strength [5].

Research has been conducted in order to help find the cause of a worker’s choice to perform OCBs. Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Paine, and Bachrach (2000) eventually were able to categorise four distinct groups. These include; individual characteristics, task characteristics, organisational characteristics, and leader behaviours. An employees’ attitude, which is part of individual characteristics, is the focal centre of most research. This may be due to employees’ interactions having a direct relationship with service quality and customer satisfaction. In 1991, Williams and Anderson proposed a different method of organising the OCB. They divided the OCB into only two categories. These were based on whom or what the behaviours was directed towards [6].

Thus the organisational culture to accept women in a leading positions is playing a crucial role as there has been a complete change in organisational structures throughout the globe in the last 150 years. The main forces driving this revolution of change are economic, strategic, and technological factors. However a more interesting effect of this transformation is the move from individual organised work structures to team based work structures (Lawler, Mohrman and Ledford 1995) [7]. There are arrays of elements that have helped give birth to teams, rather than individuals, as the backbone of organisations. These include but are not limited to increasing global competition, consolidation, and ground-breaking ideas helping to make a need for more teams. There is more of a need for diversity in skills such as experience and knowledge, and faster and more adjustable answers. Teams help to allow this. Organisations are also becoming more global through branching out, mergers and acquisitions, and collective investments. There is a bigger emphasis placed on diversity of culture in teams. Technological advancements allow teams to communicate better than ever before using real–team and allowing virtual meetings. That’s all makes an impact on beneficing the women leadership at all level management.



  1. Oliver, R.L., Rust, R.T., & Varki, , 1997. Customer delight: foundations, findings, and managerial insight. Journal of Retailing, Vol 73, pp 311-336.
  2. Bopiyeva, 2013. An evaluation of an issue that can create problems in the management of people within organisations. Managing People RGU Report.
  3. Deloitte, 2014. About deloitte. [online] New York: Deloitte. Available from: about/index.htm [Accessed 03/16 2016]
  4. Deloitte, What does your role involve? Samar employee information. [online] Dubai: Deloitte. Available from: [Accessed 03/16 2016]
  5. Ackfeldt, A-L. and Wong, 2006. The antecedents of prosocial service behaviours:An empirical investigation. Service Industries Journal, Vol 26, pp. 727-745.
  6. Podsakoff, P.M., Mackenzie, S.B., Paine, J.B., & Bachrach, D.G., 2000. Organisational citizenship behaviours: a critical review of the theoretical and empirical literature and suggestions for future Journal of Management, Vol 26, pp 513-563.
  7. Hackman, Richard, J., 1992. Group influences on individuals in Consulting Psychologists Press Lawler, Edward E., III, Susan A. Mohrman, and Gerald E. Ledford Jr., 1995. Creating High Performance Organizations, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Year: 2017
City: Almaty