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The Alchemy of Leadership Blog

The Diversity Dividend

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Ahead of our next All-Female Runway programme taking place next week in London we are delighted to feature a guest post from Jane Gotts. Jane is Director of GenAnalytics a specialist analytical and market insights consultancy focused on the area of business performance improvement linked to diversity and equality in the workplace.

It is rare now to go through a working week without hearing about the latest statistics on diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Perhaps these pass you by, perhaps you take a moment to think about why we still face challenges across gender, disability, LGBT and ethnic minority representation, or perhaps you decide to focus on the changes you can positively make in your own workplace to promote inclusion for all.

At GenAnalytics we would hope that it’s not the first option above because as an economy we cannot ignore the dividends that a truly inclusive workforce can deliver.

Across the UK, women are paid less than men in over 75% of all workplaces. The gender pay gap is a stubborn 18%. If we closed the 16% gender pay gap in Scotland our economy would receive a £6.5bn boost.

However we still have a long way to go and the pace of change remains glacially slow. Despite high profile campaigns and media attention – the number of women on FTSE boards has failed to grow at an acceptable rate with many FTSE companies failing to meet voluntary targets set. Research released earlier this year cited reasons for not appointing women that you would expect to read in the first half of the 20th Century.

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”. “There aren’t that many women with the right credentials and depth of experience to sit on the board – the issues covered are extremely complex”. It is right that these archaic views are made public but equally depressing that they come from leaders of some of the most successful UK companies.

And we should not just focus on those at the very top. Women across the UK are more likely to be in low-paid, part time roles as opposed to men. Women are more likely to face challenges with lower pension provisions than men as they reach older age.

What can often be understated though is the significant economic benefits that gender equality would deliver.

McKinsey has estimated that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing gender equality. If we do not harness the potential of over half of the world’s population the global economy will suffer.

That is why it is important for organisations to identify, harness and develop female leaders. Often this development can take place within a framework of an all-female leadership programme where specific opportunities and challenges can be raised and answered. These challenges can include addressing specific gender derailers – assertiveness, salary negotiations, self-promotion. They can also include how to deal with gender dynamics and the mindsets of managers that can create barriers for female progression in the workplace.

With companies continuing to face a war on attracting, keeping the best talent and maintaining competitive advantage we know that diverse teams can demonstrate higher performance levels and importantly increase bottom line profitability. Businesses also need to be aware of the demographics of the customers that they serve.

There are many challenges to overcome but we must also acknowledge that progress has been made. There is now greater transparency and focus on diversity and inclusion and employers are rightly investing to ensure that everyone in their workforce has the opportunity to achieve their potential.

It’s time to grasp the opportunity and claim the diversity dividend. It makes business sense, it makes economic sense and it is the right thing to do.

Thank you Jane for sharing your insights.

This article was written by Jane Gotts, Director of GenAnalytics.  You can find more about GenAnalytics at: http://www.genanalytics.co.uk

Our next All-Female Runway programme is taking place on 12 & 13 September in London and we shall be running our first All-Female programme in Edinburgh in November.  Click here to find out more.

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