Seven steps towards gender diversity
Addressing the challenge of ensuring your organisation is an employer of choice for women.
Top on the priority list for many HR professionals is diversity and inclusion – how to ensure it’s embedded across the organisation as a whole, strategies are set and results are measured. Here are seven actions to consider when working towards gender diversity and rising to the challenge of making your business the number one place women want to work.
- Senior leadership advocacy: It’s difficult to truly drive gender diversity within any business unless there is real sponsorship from the top. But this isn’t about hitting quotas; there’s a danger that if there is a bias, whether conscious or unconscious, the perception may be that women have been hired for their gender rather than being the best candidate for the role.
- Have a strategy, or at least a plan: Particularly in cases where there is a lack of senior-level sponsorship, the need to build a business case for gender diversity becomes essential. For the strategy to succeed it needs to focus on the link to business performance, rather than diversity for diversity’s sake and because ‘everyone else is doing it.’ The business case will differ per organisation and industry, but the consensus is that it will be more challenging to develop when the customer base is predominantly male. But even in areas typically dominated by men, like financial services, there are changes taking place; female chairwomen, higher percentages of female graduates entering the sector and better mentoring programmes. Additionally, retention strategies are essential to ensure top female talent remains with the business. Demonstrating the cost of losing key individuals and re-hiring or retraining a replacement should gain the buy-in of even the most cynical business leaders.
- Set targets and focus on priority areas: McKinsey research has showed the positive impact that female-only development initiatives have had on many workforces, globally.
- Targeted development interventions: Using a practical example, PepsiCo UK piloted a six month development scheme in 2011 to grow the skills and confidence of women managers. Feedback from the individuals who took part was incredibly positive.
- Build activities into personal objectives: High-potential women often leave organisations as they don’t feel they have the opportunity to maximise their career opportunities. By instigating company-wide ‘women’s networks’ and developing mentoring programmes, women can have sight of the growth they can attain to meet their professional objectives. Networks and mentors don’t need to be restricted to women though – it’s about matching objectives and developing mutually beneficial relationships. Role-modelling is also recognised as a way to retain top female talent. When more examples of senior women progressing up the ranks, balancing work and family etc are shared, the more acceptable it becomes to the overall workforce.
- Regular reviews: Tracking strategies and plans is essential to determine their success, as well as potential areas for improvement. Develop and monitor initiatives to ensure they continue to provide the intended outcomes.
- Look outside to benchmark and learn: All organisations can learn from what others in their industries are doing. B&Q is recognised as a leader in the age diversity arena and, as such, are able to attract the best candidates. What are your competitors doing and are you going to be known as a diversity leader that attracts top talent?
For more information on inclusive executive HR recruitment, please get in touch with Jess Whitehead at Page Executive in the UK:
T: +44 1132 437722
M: +44 7775 020145
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