utilize women to their highest potential, to be certain they are moved
to the next step, contributes to the high cost of turnover of seasoned
women executives, negatively impacting profits of major corporations,
which, in turn negatively impact the economy and society as a whole.
to women's advancement in the corporate world are often discussed, but
equally important is the high cost to business of failing to fully utilize
the skills and talents of 50% of the "best and brightest": women
This problem, failure to utilize women to their highest potential, to
be certain they are moved to the next step, contributes to the high cost
of turnover of seasoned women executives, negatively impacting profits
of major corporations, which, in turn negatively impact the economy and
society as a whole. It is also one of the strongest motivators propelling
women down the path of entrepreneurship which means they will no longer
be contributing at all to the corporate world.
In today's highly competitive global workplace, companies need to maintain
their competitive edge by making the best use of all their assets, including
women workers and managers. Customers today expect more diversity from
companies; they want to see sales people and managers who look like them.
In many instances, they want and expect to see women. So there are very
concrete, practical and financial reasons for companies to address this
problem. The business case is clear. A company's opportunity to achieve
its key business objectives will be greatly enhanced by fully utilizing
the skills of its women workers.
In fact, consider the likely outcome, if a corporation's accounting department
reviewed the economics of an expensive piece of equipment, precisely calibrated
to accomplish a task central to the company's revenue production. If that
equipment was seriously underutilized, the company accountants would press
hard for a change in procedures or a complete overhaul of the system to
fully utilize the potential which a company had invested in and had available
to it. Failing to utilize the full potential of women employees should
be treated with equal attention and seriousness, prompting an immediate
resolve to face the issue, and to develop solutions focused on long term,
How can a company achieve this change?
According to Catalyst, a non-profit organization which studies these issues.
" creating real change for women cannot be achieved through short-term,
quick win approaches. The underlying issues are almost always deeply rooted
in the organization's pattern. Only an initiative targeted at systemic
change will allow companies to truly capitalize on the talents of women."
After educating first oneself, then the team who will address the issue,
formulate a plan.
Three Stages of Change
Research by Catalyst identifies these initiatives as moving through three
a strong foundation based on leadership and a clear business case.
- Build a fact
base of current barriers and opportunities for women.
- Develop and
implement solutions and measurement systems.
Clearly a company must put in place a detailed system to track women's
advancement. Job levels and functions, salary rates, retention and promotion
rates should be documented and compared with those of men so change may
be monitored and responsible managers held accountable.
High potential women should be identified and developed. Focus groups
and surveys can be used to develop more information on the source and,
subsequently, the solution, to some of the problems.
Women themselves may assume responsibility for achieving well defined
and measurable goals. Senior women in an organization may be willing to
form and run subcommittees to address various aspects of the issue: recruitment
and mentoring for example.
These women are in a position to see that the plan gets some continuing
visibility. They can also adopt a role model strategy for women who feel
they are not in a sufficiently senior position to address the issue on
their own. Senior women are also in a position to reach out to younger
women in the community who will enter the workforce in the future, ensuring
both that the young women receive mentoring and direction on these issues
and that the context of the workplace itself will be changed when they
These initiatives will not only create good will for the company, be positive
for women in the workplace it impacts, but will have a positive impact
on the competitiveness and profitability of the company itself. Good business
means making the most of one's assets, and women are a key asset of almost
every business. So, it makes good business sense for a company to start
now making the most of its female workforce.