What Organizations Can Do To Advance Women
We’ve discovered over the years in practicing Gender Intelligence and working closely with companies across the globe that there are nine critical levers that leaders can immediately begin practicing to infuse Gender Intelligence into their leader style, into the culture of their teams, and into the functions, processes, and systems within their organizations.
[bs_lead]1. Make Gender Intelligence a strategic imperative[/bs_lead]
Corporate value statements that speak to their intent to be gender diverse are often just words and not enough to ensure a balanced leadership of men and women at all levels. Make a compelling business case that speaks to the economic value of gender diversity to your organization and make that effort one of your company’s top three strategic imperatives for growth.
[bs_lead]2. Show conduct and character exemplary of a gender-intelligent leader[/bs_lead]
There are many ways that leaders can close the gap between their intention and behaviour when it comes to gender diversity. The women in our survey cited one way that would be of tremendous help to them and all women aspiring to climb the corporate ladder. Create cross-gender mentoring and sponsorship opportunities between male leaders and women at entry, mid-management, and senior levels to identify future high potentials, encourage retention, and target development.
[bs_lead]3. Embed Gender Intelligence in all hiring processes and practices[/bs_lead]
There are many gender blind spots in the recruiting process, especially when sourcing and interviewing candidates. Create gender-intelligent recruitment language and job postings with specific wording that speaks to the interests and expectations of women. Research shows that this will most often not dissuade men but will tend to attract women. Also understand the different ways men and women approach the interview process including their differences in preparation, self-presentation, and responses to questions.
[bs_lead]4. Embed Gender Intelligence in all promoting practices including succession planning[/bs_lead]
There are also many gender blind spots in talent management. Provide training and insights on removing blind spots in promotion and job rotation. Don’t automatically assume women will not be interested and therefore exclude them from consideration. Create mentoring, training, and sponsorship opportunities for women considering job rotation as a path to advancement.
[bs_lead]5. Declare your intention to be a leading gender-intelligent organization[/bs_lead]
Another gap between intention and behaviour is in how companies communicate their intentions for diversity to their employees and the world at large. Internally, portray the success stories of women leaders through intranet video stories and internal newsletters. Include reinforcing comments of male supervisors and peers. Externally: Create an ongoing communications program through articles, stories, blogs, keynotes, etc., that positions your company as one that values and attracts the best and brightest women.
[bs_lead]6. Generate a strong female leadership pipeline[/bs_lead]
Develop an internship program for women entering college with degrees pertinent to your industry. This is especially critical in fields where there are few but highly talented and aspiring women. An example of such a program is IBM’s EXITE (Exploring Interests in Technology and Engineering), inspiring and empowering middle-school girls to pursue college degrees in technology and engineering, then creating internships for them through their college years.
[bs_lead]7. Provide support, guidance, and leadership training for women[/bs_lead]
[bs_lead]8. Generate gender-intelligent understanding and behaviours throughout the organization[/bs_lead]
Having the leadership team “walk the talk” when it comes to gender diversity is often not enough. Many women, early in their careers, become discouraged by a manager who may not recognize their value and contribution. Promote gender awareness training for managers to deepen culture change.
[bs_lead]9. Embed Gender Intelligence in all customer- and client-facing efforts[/bs_lead]
Recognize that your marketplace is increasingly becoming gender diverse while your product development, sales, and marketing departments are still male-oriented. Making the connection between gender diversity and economic value is the fastest way to changing the culture, creating gender-intelligent organizations, and creating greater opportunities for the advancement of women.
The above is excerpted from our White Paper in partnership with Thomson Reuters, “Solutions to Women’s Advancement.”