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I don’t want to be cynical.

As many of us have been doing lately, I’ve been avidly watching, reading and listening to the analysis of today’s workplace, specifically regarding women. (Actually, I’ve been researching and writing on gender-in-the-workplace issues for several decades, now, and I always look for signs that something truly different is afoot.)

Right now, there’s a lot of focus on harassment and aggression, but the current spotlight also reignites the question about women’s lack of representation in the upper echelons of organizations of all types.

Statistics abound: Look at the economic advantages of a gender-diverse workplace. For example, Deloitte’s 2017 report, Inclusive Mobility: How Mobilizing a Diverse Workforce Can Drive Business Performance cites:

  • Companies in DiversityInc’s Top 50 stock index outperform the major stock indexes.
  • Organizations that recruit, retain, and promote diverse top talent have:*
    • Lower turnover rates: 3 – 22 %
    • Greater productivity: 22 %
    • Higher profitability: 27 %
    • Higher customer satisfaction: 39 %

McKinsey’s report Diversity Matters, which compares performance within the same industry, shows that gender diversity is definitely a competitive advantage and that companies in the top quarter of gender diverse firms are 15% more likely to have better financial returns.

Mercer’s annual research report, When Women Thrive, Businesses Thrive, points to an interesting global perspective. The report states that “Women are perceived to have unique skills needed in today’s market, including flexibility and adaptability (39% vs. 20% who say men have those strengths); inclusive team management (43% vs. 20%); and emotional intelligence (24% vs. 5%).”

These are attributes that work well across borders when doing global work.

However, as we all know, women are still lagging far behind in key indicators. According to When Women Thrive, statistically, while on average women are 40% of a company’s workforce, their percentages decline as you go up the corporate ladder. Globally, 33% are managers; 26% senior managers, 20% executives.

And, according to a 2017 report from Catalyst, the Women’s Research and Think Tank, women currently hold 26 (5.2%) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.

* According to Workforce DiversityNetwork:

The reason these numbers are significant is that experts agree that when you get more and more women in policy-making and oversight positions, much of the harassment, aggression, and disrespect towards women will diminish.

So, let me pose a few questions and we can have a dialog.

  • Are there any programs that you’ve found are successful? What qualities make them successful?
  • What are your thoughts about gender-matching and mentors? Is that important?
  • What can managers do to aid our diversity and inclusion programs?
  • Have you ever considered an overseas work assignment?

Check back for my next blog posting related to promoting other areas of diversity within our organizations.

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