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Gender Diversity is Not a Problem, it’s a Solution
When gender diversity is discussed, it often sounds as though it’s a problem that needs to be fixed. However, evidence is mounting to support the view that tackling the diversity issue can actually be a solution to key business problems, writes Peter Cosgrove from Cpl Resources plc.
Here are three reasons why having a more gender diverse workplace is a business imperative:
1. Using 100% of your talent will fill the jobs gap.
The world’s population is shrinking, and so too is the talent pool. By 2020, Ireland will potentially have up to 21,000 job vacancies in the big data analytics sphere alone. With such demand, it makes sense to avail of the full range of the talent pool. In many areas, STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) in particular, there is a significant shortage of female workers. Simply increasing female hires can tackle the thousands of jobs coming down the tracks in tech.
Casting a wide net is the best way to ensure diversity; look at your recruitment process – how inclusive is it? You need to spend the appropriate time and money on finding the best candidates.
For example, make your staff aware of the unconscious biases they hold during the recruitment process. People hire based on who they feel fulfil the criteria of the “ideal worker” – such as willingness to work extra hours and being “always on”. That is often skewed by a tendency to hire people like you. Managers can change employee perception of such criteria by setting examples, and tackling that unconscious bias.
2. Be a company worth working for.
Diverse companies that provide a supportive and female-friendly work environment will demonstrate a culture that cares about its employees’ careers and happiness. Companies that value their staff’s individual needs and expectations will be the companies worth working for. These are the companies that top talent are drawn to.
It can be counter-productive to target flexible working policies at women only. Policies aimed at women can often lead to a culture of resentment or pressure. Men may also need to avail of parental leave or remote working and, as such, these policies should be open to all. Check the pulse of the workplace and listen to the needs and concerns of the employees. For example, fathers can often feel like they are “dads in the shadows” because they want to be seen as good workers. Facilitate the needs of all your staff and you will create an environment that is not only friendly to women but also increases worker engagement and motivation.
3. Build a successful brand.
The most valuable brands in the world have a higher than average proportion of female board members. The top seven brands in 2013 had an average 22.7% female board membership. They are successful because diverse management leads to diverse mind sets. Currently women only make up 13% of top management roles and only 3% of creative directors. For brands to be innovative, creative and attractive, it is vital that they recruit and promote women in sufficient numbers. To ensure female directors aren’t seen as token appointments, they should make up at least 3% of the board. With that threshold reached or surpassed, a critical shift happens where they are not ignored or isolated, and they can begin to change the dynamic within their organisation.
Not only will this result in increased creativity, but also increased profitability. In a survey of Fortune 500 companies, those that had a greater representation of women in management positions delivered a total return to shareholders that was 34% higher than companies with the lowest representation. Having a higher percentage of women in the workplace is becoming increasingly crucial for business success.
Gender diversity will be an answer to many of the problems currently facing companies. The organisations with the most innovative brands, the most engaged employees and strongest balance sheets all boast a diverse workforce.
Written by: Peter Cosgrove, Director, Cpl. Talk to Cpl about finding the best people for the job.
Please be aware that all of the views expressed in this Blog are purely the personal views of the authors and commentators (including those working for AIB as members of the AIB website team or in any other capacity) and are based on their personal experiences and knowledge at the time of writing.
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