Last month attended a networking event on International Women’s Day in NYC wherein our CEO addressed questions from the enthusiastic group of women across career / organization / new developments, etc. It was an informative discussion around what and how our company is working towards Gender Diversity, which is a vital element of long-term corporate value and directly counters for innovation requirement too. Varied perspectives at the leadership level provide greater options with broader implication and heightened adaptability in an evolving marketplace.
Gender Diversity is equal treatment and acceptance of both male and females in an organization. As our world becomes ever more progressive and interconnected, building effective strategies that promote diversity in all areas, such as race, sexuality and age are regarded as a paramount concern for organizations. The lack of attention to gender diversity issues is even more concerning when one considers that gender parity is actually financially advantageous for companies. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, corporations with higher gender diversity enjoy some $600 million more revenue on average than companies that neglect to promote equality.
The consequences of unequal gender representation in the global workforce are extensive and they primarily branch off the concept of heightened thought diversity. Good corporate decision-making requires the ability to hear and consider different points of view, which comes from people who have different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Companies that have women directors and executive officers lead by example. They send a clear message that they value diversity of thought and experience. Advancing women to positions of leadership is smart business.
‘An article in CNN states that ‘companies with a high representation of women board members significantly outperformed those with no female directors’. In other words, the more diverse leaders are on the topic, the better is the rate of success.
Benefits of Gender Diversity:
- Decrease Employee Turnover – Employee turnover and retention is one of the key challenges businesses face on a daily basis, and expensive too. Inclusive cultures are reported to have 22% lower turnover rates due to increased morale, opportunity and equality
- Improve reputation – Business reputation is more impact today than ever before. How your business is represented to your audience, your employees, your investors and your future talent pool is undoubtedly a key definer of overall success. A recent study by PWC cited that 83% of women seek careers with businesses who demonstrate strong records of diversity and equality.
- Increase engagement and performance – Inclusive workforce raise higher satisfaction levels which in turn increases employee engagement thus resulting in increased performance
- Act as a true representation of your diverse customer base – It’s a simple thought about “engaging and retaining a diverse audience requires a diverse approach and workforce”. Women currently influence over 85% of retail decisions so aligning direct representation within your workforce is almost imperative in order to retain and capitalize.
- Widen your talent pool – We all have different talents, different attributes and bring different skills to the table. Without this diversity businesses wouldn’t develop, adapt, innovate and progress. By eliminating, decreasing or not engaging female representation within your workplace you are losing out half of the talent pool available, and the unique attributes that female workers can bring from entry level through to boardroom.
According to Women in the Workplace study, for every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. As a result, fewer women end up on the path of leadership. It’s important for women to recognize their leadership potential and embrace their unique perspectives and leadership styles.
3 Steps women can take to brighten their leadership way:
- Acknowledge adversity :
Adversity makes you stronger by building your character and resilience ~ Albán CEO of Alban communications
The key is to not let your ego interfere with your ability to stay afloat during hard times.” The challenges may come in many forms — you may have to take a client or project you feel you have outgrown, learn a new skill or ask someone above you for help. But stay humble and agile, and soon enough, you’ll rise above them
2. Seek Mentor-ship : It’s never too late for women to seek mentor-ship to help boost their career. A study from Development Dimensions International found that mentoring helps retain practical experience and wisdom gained from longer-term employees. The exchange of knowledge and experience that informs proteges also helps put mentors in touch with other parts of the organization. Businesses also benefit from their employees’ professional development.
3. Give it your all : Above all, working hard and recognizing your own talents, along with self-belief will yield success.
“You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering and often earns you new respect.” ~ Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO of Sam’s Club
Gender Diversity is about building a stronger, more competitive organization. The workplace, like the nation and wider world, is made up of men and women of diverse racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds, with varied lifestyles and approaches to life. Instead of trying to make everyone fit one mold, diversity acknowledge people’s differences and work with those differences to create a fairer and more productive workplace. The notion of diversity integrates awareness of, and respect for, differences into the way people communicate and interact.
Actions to be taken by an organization to promote Gender Diversity:
1.Offer Equal Pay : According to the World Economic Forum, the pay gap persists on a global scale and currently women only earn what their male counterparts did 10 years ago. This is primarily because people are offered salaries based on what they have earned in past as against their skill sets and for women there is often a break in their career for family / children. As of April 2016, women earned 21% less income than men for same level. To move toward closing the gap, organization should ensure that wage inequality is stamped out in their own companies and women should not be overlooked in the recruitment process or for promotions.
2. Create a team that prioritizes and celebrates diversity : Make it a priority to train staff at all levels about the importance of diversity and recognizing discrimination in all its forms. Unconscious bias can be a big barrier to comprehensive equality in the work place. People tend to gravitate, albeit subconsciously, to people similar to themselves in order to feel safer. Ultimately, diversity must be a transparent company value that is disseminated from the top.
3. Family friendly policies are key : Flexible policies for working families available to both sexes, are an integral component of a gender diverse office. Policies that allow for a more satisfactory work-life balance include the option of working remotely, a flexible schedule in terms of start and finish time and the option of child daycare at the office itself.
4. Promote Women : Women are less comfortable putting themselves forward for promotion, despite often being more than qualified and tend to act differently than men in professional settings. There are a number of reasons for this and organization should pay attention to the success and accomplishments of their female employees ensuring deserving women are promoted at the same rate as their male peers.
5. Ongoing Communication efforts :
- Engage company leaders to share their opinions
- Create employee spotlight
- Highlight company culture & initiative
- Organize events , seminars with women leaders to share their opinions, journey, challenges, achievements
Leaders know that gender equality is not only the ‘RIGHT’ thing to do but also the ‘SMART’ thing!
Gender Diversity makes an organization more responsive to the continually changing demands of the global marketplace by drawing on the cultures, talents, and ideas of a broader group of people; leading to higher acceptability by employees and improving reputation and profitability.
Image Credits : Google, Slideshare.net
About Sonalli Arora
Sonalli has over 18 years of experience and has worked with organizations like Genpact US, Genpact India, Accenture Services India Pvt. Ltd. & Vertex Services Ltd. Sonalli holds a Master of Commerce, Accounts from Delhi University.