March 8th marks international women’s day, an annual celebration to commemorate women’s strength, achievements and legacies. The theme of this year’s celebrations is Balance for Better, promoting gender balance and equality across the world and different industries. While diversity and inclusion initiatives are top priorities in most organisations these days there still remains a significant gender gap at C-level with less than 5% of CEO positions in Europe and the US held by women.
Top level female representation is not merely a question of ethics but rather about business success. Research demonstrates that organisations with diverse leadership teams outperform those that do not. In fact one study conducted by Boston Consulting Group found that organisations with leadership diversity generate up to 19% more revenue.
Fostering an environment where everyone can achieve their full potential is no easy feat however there are practices which help women and men progress in their career, while maintaining a balanced life.
- Bias training – unconscious bias exists in many forms within the workplace. Providing bias training will help raise awareness of the issue and ensure adequate measures are in place to help overcome the challenge.
- Change the long term hours norm – in a recent article about resilience training I touched on the mounting evidence that long days should become a thing of the past. Changing the attitude toward long days will open up greater opportunity for career driven parents and provide better work life balance for mothers and fathers.
- Offer paid paternity leave… and enforce it – Gender equality works both ways. Offering and enforcing paid paternity leave encourages better work life integration for male employees. It also helps to close the gap which is often opened when mothers take time off to rear children.
- Focus on inclusive leadership programmes and sponsorship – having a diverse pipeline is half the battle. Encourage female participation in leadership development programmes and ensure that the right people are sponsoring female candidates (sponsors with influence).
- Celebrate female achievements – share the stories and experiences of your female high fliers to inspire others. Celebrate their journey and achievements and leverage their role model image to attract new female candidates to aspire to C-level.
Increasingly, employees are expecting organisations to have truly diverse and inclusive cultures. As the war for talent heightens those who are slow to change will lose.
Author: Sara Glynn, Marketing & Customer Success Manager@ Wrkit