We know that diversity leads to profitability. McKinsey found that gender diversity on executive teams leads to higher profitability (almost 30% higher), and that the executive teams of outperforming companies have more women in line roles versus staff roles. But many organizations are still not embracing gender diversity. A measly 4% of CEO positions were held by women in America’s 500 biggest companies in 2016.
Why, despite the clear benefits, is it so difficult to foster diversity?
In this article, we explore the unintentional causes of gender discrimination and present some ideas for correcting these through formal and informal training initiatives and retention programs.
Understanding the danger of unconscious bias
We all carry unconscious, or unintentional, biases about people who are different to us. We naturally feel more at ease when interacting with people who share our gender, ethnicity and religious beliefs.
Many of us grew up with men in the majority as leaders of government and business. Many women chose or were forced to take career breaks to raise their families. So, we see men dominating senior leadership positions. As a result, many of us – including existing male and female leaders – have developed unconscious biases against female leaders, simply because we are not accustomed to their leadership and communication styles.
It’s important to recognize the unconscious biases that may be present in your organization. They’re often the reason it’s so difficult to change the status quo.
Formal programs that promote gender equality in the workplace
Fostering gender diversity starts with a firm commitment from the top – a commitment to hire more women, support them appropriately, and pay them fairly.
Hiring policies may need to be reviewed and updated. You might find that you need to host a gender equality workshop. Women’s networking and resource groups are helpful, as are mentor and sponsorship programs aimed at young female employees.
Of course, a flexible working policy would attract more working mothers (and fathers).
You might even consider implementing a formal ‘returnship’ program to encourage older women to return to work.
Creating an inclusive, supportive culture
Too many companies are made up of people who share the same background and who are not very good at welcoming diverse hires.
This type of culture often takes its lead from the top, so a change in culture needs to be driven by the CEO and other leaders. They need to demonstrate their commitment to building an inclusive culture by hiring, promoting, listening to and supporting female leaders, and being prepared to have honest (and sometimes difficult) conversations with employees about their behavior.
Ensure diversity and inclusion success with vi by Aderant
Ensure that your diverse employees are properly integrated and set up for success by creating tailored retention strategies for them using the vi platform. Our solution also gives you a bird’s-eye view of diversity metrics and how they stack up across departments and locations.
You can also use the platform to answer key diversity questions, like:
- Are women getting promotions at the same rate as men?
- Are visible minorities getting the same quality of work as non-visible minorities?
- Are attrition rates higher for diverse people in certain offices or departments?
It’s an easy-to-use solution that bolts on to your existing people management software, so there’s no heavy lifting from your side.
Want to know more? Visit our website or get started with demo by following the link below.