If you’re reading this, your mind likely went directly to “because it is the right thing to do.” However it is unlikely that answer will get you very far from the leader who signs your budget approvals.
We’ve broken down three reasons why your company should invest in gender diversity in the organization. Think of it as different levels of investment with corresponding returns—the old “you get out what you put in” approach.
INVESTMENT LEVEL 1 ($)
WHERE THE MONEY GOES:
Trainings for employees—including senior leaders—and organization-specific programming to suit the needs of the women in your organization. Getting to the heart of these topics should also include a small amount of data collection from your employees. If you don’t currently have a women’s initiative or gender inclusion council, setting aside budget for volunteer leaders to create an empowering environment can go a long way.
Developing focused programming and trainings provides employees with lasting tools to implement in the workplace, which leads to more engaged employees and a better company culture overall. In the 3-month post-workshop survey we send to participants, we found that 100% of respondents utilized the takeaways from their workshop, with one participant indicating that they “went for a leadership position they might not have otherwise,” and another who said the workshop “made me stand up to gender bias.” Furthermore, 100% of respondents indicated higher or much higher engagement with the organization or women’s initiative post-workshop.
INVESTMENT LEVEL 2 ($$)
WHERE THEY MONEY GOES:
Creating a more flexible workplace for all can improve culture across the board, but it makes a significant difference for working mothers who, more often have partners who also work full time—57% for women in senior roles compared to 38% of men, according to the 2017 Women in the Workplace report. This may include things like:
Opportunities for part-time or reduced schedule (without being taken off a current track to leadership)
Extended maternity / paternity leave with smooth return transition
Child care assistance (subsidies or on-site)
Retention. There is a common misconception that women are leaving organizations to focus on family. However, it is much more likely they are taking a role at another company (72% vs 2% focusing on family). There may be variety of factors at play in the decision to move to another company, but these flexible workplace practices may indicate an organization more welcoming of working parents and a commitment to their advancement. Not only can these practices keep the high-performing talent you have now, but it can also have a ripple effect for entry-level employees looking upward to understand their opportunities to grow in leadership.
INVESTMENT LEVEL 3 ($$$)
WHERE THE MONEY GOES:
Improving (or overhauling) existing hiring and performance review processes to reduce bias of all kinds. This can certainly start with trainings for managers and leaders—especially on unconscious bias—but it goes much deeper to using clear and consistent criteria and measures for hiring and promoting, as well as ensuring that the pool of candidates is diverse to begin with.
Companies with greater gender diversity perform better overall. Need I say more? This is the true bottom line of why companies should invest in more diverse recruiting, hiring, and advancement. The McKinsey & Company study that digs into this indicates, “more diverse companies, we believe, are better able to win top talent and improve their customer orientation, employee satisfaction, and decision making, and all that leads to a virtuous cycle of increasing returns.”
For many of us, diversity isn’t about the money, but we know that it has to be part of the conversation when we are pushing for change and justifying spend. I challenge you to ask your leadership if they would like to have better performance, increased retention, and more highly engaged employees—if they answer yes, your door to advancing gender diversity in the workplace has opened.
If they answer no, seek medical attention.
If you’re struggling with where to begin, we can help you determine the best place to start and develop a roadmap for the year ahead.