‘’How gender inclusive is your business?’’
‘’It’s very inclusive. About 50% of our employees are women. We have a new policy which encourages female recruitment.’’
‘’That’s great! How many women do you have on your board?’’
‘’And how many female execs do you have?’’
‘’OK. What about your senior leadership team? What percentage of women do you have there?’’
‘’Yeah, maybe 10%? But we have around 20% at middle management level, and probably 40% or more at the lower levels.’’
At the moment, this is pretty typical of most businesses. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, only 16% of CEOs and 27% of Key Management Personnel in Australia are women. Businesses are conscious of the need and the benefits of having a better gender balance across the organisation, and they are trying to get there.
But gender diversity is about more than numbers.
It’s about what is really going on inside the organisation.
A report released last year by The Boston Consulting Group suggests what’s really stopping your business from moving forward with gender diversity. Do you know what it comes down to? The report says it’s a “a mismatch between the perceptions of women and those of senior leaders—who are overwhelmingly male at most organizations—regarding the main challenges to achieving gender diversity.”
They give this example. When asked, women say their biggest blocks to building a leadership career are obstacles to promotion and issues with retention. Male leaders think the problem lies in recruitment, so businesses are focusing their gender diversity efforts on a system which is not the main issue.
Another example the report gave was the issue of flexible work programs. Across the board, men and women ranked it as the most effective gender diversity intervention, yet senior males ranked it at number eight.
What it boils down to is this.
Until you go out and talk to the people involved – the women in your business – you’re never going to know what the real issues are. You can’t be a gender inclusive organisation if you’re not dealing with the biases or mismatched perceptions behind the decisions which are being made.
You can’t solve a problem when you only have half the information you need.
Take a look at the gender breakdown throughout your business. Where are the females well represented? Where does that representation stop?
Now go out and find out why that is. Talk to your people, male and female, and you’ll be closer to the truth than you’ve ever been.
Now is the time to show leadership in gender equity and to take steps towards improvement.
To help your current and emerging female leaders, consider enrolling them in brave Women Leading so they learn to understand and use the skills they have. Strong female leaders will add balance to your business and ultimately boost your bottom line results. Call today on 1300 719 665.