Posts Tagged ‘diversity’

Why You Need to Retain Women: The Business Case for Gender Diversity

small__6829377121This is a guest post by Caroline Turner, author of Difference Works: Improving Retention, Productivity and Profitability through Inclusion.

Most people don’t change, or willingly go along with change, just because the change is “the right thing to do.” They do it if there is an important reason to change. Businesses don’t change their corporate cultures so that they retain women because doing so is nice for women. They do it if there is a compelling business reason to do so. The bottom-line reasons to achieve gender diversity in leadership are exactly that—compelling.

You may already understand the business value of gender diversity. You may know that an organization can only achieve sustainable gender diversity in leadership by having an inclusive culture. But enrolling others in creating a culture of inclusion requires that you present a clear business case that fits your industry and organization. It requires that the leaders of your organization understand the business value of inclusion and gender diversity. These are those reasons:

BENEFITS OF HAVING AN INCLUSIVE CULTURE

Increased engagement: Engagement has been convincingly linked with productivity, profitability, employee commitment and retention. An organization where more of today’s diverse workforce is engaged is an inclusive workplace. According to Cumulative Gallup Workplace Studies cited in “Business Case for Diversity with Inclusion,” organizations with inclusive cultures do better on several scores than those that aren’t inclusive. Inclusive organizations have:

  • 39% higher customer satisfaction.
  • 22% greater productivity.
  • 27% higher profitability.

Decreased turnover: Turnover has significant direct and indirect costs.  According to that same Gallup study, companies with inclusive cultures have 22% lower turnover rates. As the economy recovers and workers have more freedom to pursue new jobs, turnover will return to the front of business leaders’s minds. Studies show a staggering percentage of employed Americans—particularly Millennials—indicate that they intend to look for a new job once the economy improves.

Easier recruitment: An organization with a reputation for being a good place to work for diverse groups has an easier time recruiting talent from today’s diverse hiring pool. That saves money and time.

Better decisions: Many people have a sense that decisions are better when they come from a group with diverse backgrounds and perspectives. A recent study from the Kellogg School of Management concludes that heterogeneous groups get better results than homogeneous groups because the tension or discomfort leads to more careful processing of information.

Stronger connection with diverse markets: Businesses with diverse workforces have an easier time tapping the diverse marketplace. The buying power and influence of “minority” groups are large and growing according to buying power studies like that from the Terry College of Business.

BENEFITS OF GENDER DIVERSITY IN LEADERSHIP

In addition to the benefits of inclusiveness generally, the case for a gender-inclusive workplace includes:

Higher returns: Catalyst, a research and consulting organization focusing on women in business, and McKinsey have both shown correlations between gender diversity in leadership and the bottom line.  Catalyst found significantly higher returns in Fortune 500 companies with more women at the top and on their boards of directors. McKinsey found that, of the 89 companies studied, those with gender diversity in leadership experienced higher return on equity, operating profit and stock price. While neither Catalyst nor McKinsey say that having women in leadership causes better results, the numbers indicate that having both men and women in leadership positions is good for the bottom line.

Women in the hiring pool: According to The Shriver Report, women are now half of the workforce and hiring pool. According to the U.S. Department of Education data and projections, the pool of educated workers has and will continue to have more women than men as women earn more undergraduate and graduate degrees than men. It’s simple: To have the most skilled and talented workforce, a business must attract and retain women as well as men.

The women’s market: A diverse culture that mirrors its markets tends to do better than its homogeneous competitors. The women’s market is key to many industries as women are important decision-makers, customers and potential customers. Women influence more than 85% of retail decisions. Women are decision-makers in more and more business-to-business relationships.  Women-owned businesses are a growing sector of the U.S. economy.

Bang for the buck: If a business wants to increase engagement and retention from any group other than the group most highly represented at the upper levels of business (white, male, heterosexual, Christian), the largest return may be in increasing engagement in the largest such group—women. And there is more bang for the buck: Women’s needs and approaches to work are shared by other growing sectors of the workforce. Members of Generation X and Millennials share women’s need for flexibility, desire for closer workplace relationships and preference for fewer hierarchical structures. Steps to make a culture work better for women will also make it work better for these growing workforce sectors.

Creating an inclusive culture is great for those who otherwise would not feel a sense of belonging. Supporting the advancement of women in business is great for women. But these aren’t the ultimate goals—and they won’t inspire action. Inclusive cultures and organizations with gender diversity in particular achieve superior business outcomes: customer satisfaction, retention, productivity and profitability. That’s what can drive action and culture change.

Difference Works: Improving Retention, Productivity and Profitability through Inclusion is available for purchase on Amazon.com and at other major online book retailers. For more information, please visit http://www.differenceworks.com.

Photo credit: www.flickr.com/photos/76029035@N02.

Modern Managers Need an “-ity” Strategy

Diversity.  Mobility.  Productivity.  What are they good for, besides ending with '-ity'? 

Not so very long ago, most people came to the office at the same time every day, dressed the same, acted the same, left at the same time and kind of meandered through the day at a steady pace.

You knew where you stood.  You knew where everyone else stood, too.

Not that there wasn’t any diversity, no sir.  You had women in a low-paid clerical roles,  the proverbial ‘new kid’, a couple of older folks who'd been around forever and maybe even one or two people of a different race or ethnicity.

There was mobility back then, too.  I mean, you could totally work from home, just not during office hours.  And productivity basically meant meeting your deadlines with a couple of minutes to spare.  

Back then, becoming a manager was either a matter of past achievement or favoritism and being a good manager mostly meant looking the part and telling people what to do.

Oh, wait, that part about managers is still mostly true, even though pretty much everything else has completely changed.  And it worked OK back then because things were slower and the workforce was more homogenous so you didn’t need as much… finesse to lead people.  But today?

Today it’s a different world.  And when the world changes, the things you need to do to be successful also change.  Let’s take a closer look at these same ‘ity’s’ that - if we really think about them - make it clear that the old ways of selecting and evaluating managers won't cut it any more:

DIVERSITY 

People eating spicy food and going to church on different days is the least of it.  You’ve got up to 4 generations on your team, 20% contingent workers (on average), different races, ethnicities and attitudes, team members all around the world and all of a sudden everyone’s an ‘individual’ and wants special attention, fabulous development opportunities and flexible working hours.  Not to mention half of them aren’t even THERE on any given day.  

But there it is.  We can either see all this diversity as a management headache or as an opportunity to foster new ideas and ways of working.  Here are some ideas about good diversity management as well as a short post about what makes diversity pay. And don't miss Tim Sackett's foundational guide to white people.

The good news is that good diversity management looks a lot like good management so we can think of good diversity management as a twofer.*  

*Please note this is the ONLY time we will ever use the word ‘twofer’ in conjunction with diversity.  Seriously.

MOBILITY 

WFH. OOO. AOAC.  If you don’t know what at least one of these acronyms stand for you might want check your pager in case 1990’s trying to reach you.  Given new innovations in mobile technology as well as recent studies correlating autonomy and engagement, isn’t it time to  let people work when they want, how they want and where they want?  Just a thought.  

If you're just getting started with the whole 'mobile' thing, here are some tips formanaging remote workers.  I also recommend Patty Azzarello’s various blog posts about how to be effective working remotely.

PRODUCTIVITY 

In an uncertain economy where doing more with less has become the new corporate black, productivity is clearly a business imperative. So why is American productivity at an all-time low?  There are several culprits, although this list is not exhaustive:

  • Meetings - A poorly run or unnecessary meeting costs more than you may realize in terms of productivity and opportunity.  Check out this post about the hidden costs of meetings and next time you call a meeting think 'brevity,' another 'ity' word.
  • Tools - As soon as you reach a critical mass of people and/or locations, the cost of not having proper collaboration tools - such as a corporate wiki where information can be shared, web and video conferencing, Internet and device access - will start to add up.
  • Committees - Nothing is quite as big a time sink as not having a clear topic owner.  Assign one and let them do their job.  Enough said.
  • Admin - A certain amount of paperwork is everyone’s lot in corporate life.  However, once dealing with admin exceeds 10% of the standard work week, there’s a problem, Houston.  

And guess what?  If you're the manager, it's your job to help very different people - including 'locationally challenged' people - work well together and do their jobs quickly and effectively.

Diversity.  Mobility.  Productivity.  Like I said, you need an '-ity' strategy.

It isn't always easy.  But hey, that’s why managers get the big bucks and absolute power, right?

Today's featured blogger is Laura Schroeder who writes Working Girl. She is a talent management evangelist, compensation specialist and proud mother of three. You can connect with her on Twitter @WorkGal or connect on LinkedIn. 

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