5 Ways Organisations Can Drive Gender Diversity

Whilst there are marked differences in how men and women manage their careers, it’s also clear that in order to make the shift, gender diversity must be viewed as an organisational issue rather than simply an HR issue.

Companies with better gender diversity are 15% more likely to show increased financial returns – yet less than 25% of senior roles are currently held by women. Here’s how your organisation can help female employees develop their careers.

1. Identify and invest in talent

Identify talent – and also potential talent. Be willing to invest in developing potential talent in areas including business and financial skills. 70% of learning comes from the experimental, so focus on how you can offer employees hands-on experience and stretch assignments in order to help them gain the vital experience that will help them progress.

Specifically, explore how you can provide greater opportunities for women to gain Profit & Loss experience. Compared to their male counterparts, women in these roles often lack the commercial experience required to move to the next level. It is the role of HR to funnel more women through these jobs, creating opportunities and specific P&L experiences for those in the middle of their careers to help prepare them for the next step.

2. Track progress

Be sure to track the progress of your career management initiatives. Review the metrics and measure the results every quarter. As well as looking at where the organisation is today in terms of the percentage of women in leadership roles, it’s also vital to pay attention to the percentage of women in the succession pipeline, and identify which areas of the business they represent. Each area of the business should be represented, ensuring the talent pool of succession planning is diverse.

When it comes to gender diversity, only 38 percent of companies set targets for gender representation (Women in the Workplace 2018, McKinsey & LeanIn.Org), even though setting goals is the first step toward achieving any business priority. It’s hard to imagine a groundswell of change when leaders aren’t formally expected to drive it.

3. Review recruitment procedures

Look closely at your recruitment processes: even very simple changes can have a significant impact. Requiring a diverse slate of candidates and setting clear, consistent evaluation criteria before the process starts will ensure you recruit based on talent alone. It’s also important to reminding all those participating in the recruitment process of the existence – and danger of – unconscious bias. Creating more awareness around the subject will enable you to refine your recruitment processes accordingly. And don’t forget to measure the impact. Measurement at the outset means you have a base from which to work and improve upon.

4. Ensure leadership own the initiative

Diversity should never be delegated to HR: when it is, it falls off the agenda. Senior leadership must lead by example, ensuring diversity messages are reinforced, calling out poor behaviour and role modelling options like flexible working.

5. Don’t underestimate the importance of the manager’s role

Organisations tend to place the greatest emphasis on policies and procedures such as flexible working. These are important, but undoubtedly the aspect that has the greatest impact on women and their careers is their manager: research shows that line managers are key enablers of success. When people managers act as advocates, give stretch assignments and advise on career advancement, women are more likely to receive promotions.

The business case supports the efforts as reported by McKinsey in March of 2018 after 10 years of research on women in the workplace (Still looking for room at the top, McKinsey, 2018): the companies in the top quartile for gender diversity in executive teams outperformed the average on profitability and value creation by up to 27%.

For more tips on how both individuals and organisations can drive gender parity in the workplace, watch the On-Demand webinar, ‘What’s Holding Women Back’.

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