Gender diversity is a hot topic. And for valid commercial reasons. Research shows that improving your gender diversity will have a positive impact on your bottom line performance. Businesses that have a greater gender balance outperform their competitors by at least 10% – 15% year on year. A recent piece of research, The Tipping Point: Women on Boards and Financial Performance, shows that there is a substantial impact when a business has at least three women in key board positions.
Progression with gender diversity can be painfully slow, and let’s be honest, not given the priority or focus that it deserves. I’d like to share 5 ways in which you can improve gender diversity within your business:
Identify your current ratio of male employees to female employees per level and break down for each part of the business and set targets to improve. Set realistic targets that will challenge each part of your business to achieve within the next couple of years. Give these targets prominence and focus. Increasingly your investors, customers and suppliers will be looking at whether you are taking gender diversity seriously.
Be creative in your recruitment
It’s not good enough to say ‘but all our applicants are men.’ If you always recruit from the same sources, you will always have the same type of applicants. So vary the job boards and media you use to advertise vacancies, alter who is responsible for making recruitment decisions and go direct to schools and universities to mentor young women into your industry. Traditional interview processes favour male applicants, so review your selection criteria and how this is evidenced.
Combat unconscious bias
First of all combat any overt sexist workplace behaviours. And then tackle the discrimination that takes place without our knowledge. Who organises meetings? Who takes notes? Who fetches the drinks? Who organises the collections and social events? Who gets to manage the new projects? Who gets a say in the important business decisions? What assumptions are made about who does what in your organisation? Train managers to recognise and deal with their unconscious biases.
Identify future talent
Companies often complain they would struggle to fill board quotas because their company doesn’t have enough female talent ‘in the pipeline’. Actively seek out the best women in your business and mentor them so they are ready to step up when a potential promotion comes up.
It’s not just women that would like more time to spend with their children but it’s clear that inflexible working arrangements have made it more difficult for most women to get to the top. Ask your staff what works for them. Flexibility shown when it is most needed tends to be rewarded later with loyalty, commitment and productivity. Make it easy for parents to fit their home life around work by offering flexible working options.
Sally Dhillon, Career-Mums Partnership, helps employers to improve their gender diversity, and bottom line, through a range of services, including maternity coaching, career returner initiatives, career development planning and unconscious bias training. Career-Mums also supports parents returning to work following a career break. Contact Sally on 0773 6066262 to discuss your specific challenges. www.career-mums.co.uk.
This blog post has been produced in support of the GBCC’s Growth Through People campaign. The views expressed by the author are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of the GBCC.