12th Dec , 2019
By David Cartney – International Business Mentors
The lessons for diversity following on from various International Women’s days need to be learned. Although improving, not enough progress has been made in the last few years to redress the gender imbalances in most western economies on employment, senior leadership representation and incomes. At International Business Mentors, our business coaching professionals take diversity seriously and strongly advocate for reform in this space.
One approach to redress some of the existing gender imbalances is to implement diversity policies at the highest level in organisations, and also ensure that operational management implement these in practice. This would need targets to encourage implementation and would need to be applied to both genders where there is a gender bias in the distribution of employees. Our business coach and business mentor professionals are routinely asked for assistance to address and put in procedures to meet this challenging goal.
Feedback from our business mentors and business coaches suggests that one aspect of implementing diversity policy is to adopt internal targets (not quotas) of 50:50, and this could be adopted in all areas of any business or organisation. There is nothing like a measurable target to focus the mind and encourage critical thinking and concerted action to attain the gender targets.
Implementing a diversity target would encourage the use of the full market of talent to be considered in filling jobs or promotions and result in the benefits of getting the best possible candidates for the jobs irrespective of their gender.
To achieve and maintain 50:50 does require after employment that employers treat their successful candidates as equals irrespective of gender. They can be defined as “equals” if they possess similar qualifications, skills experience and demonstrated past performance, which are all independent of their respective gender. Once employed inside the organisation, these equals need to be given equal support and resources to enable them to do their jobs. They also need the same level of opportunities to progress within the organisation. This would allow an even distribution of genders to feed into the higher management and leadership positions and assist in the 50:50 upwards in the organisation.
Where insufficient talent of one gender comes forward from jobs or promotions, then research will be needed to find out the cause of these imbalances and steps taken to remove any blockages.
When engaging one of our experienced business coaching professionals, some of the areas in which they can help might be:
Defining steps that may include the depiction of the job itself to remove sexual bias, ensuring both genders to be represented on the interview panels, advertising to attract a wider diversity talent pool, and further there might be a need for suggestions on how the education or experience paths up to this point can be improved to better diversify the people entering into this career path. Training of both men and women might be needed in terms of how to manage and interact and communicate with the diversity within the organisation or in its target organisation and culture in the future.
At the micro level, an on-going process is needed to achieve diversity at the target of 50:50. Where an area receives significantly greater than 50% of one sex, then resources need to be adjusted to encourage the opposite gender group to restore the balance towards the target. Once balance has been achieved, any one-off resources needed to encourage the lower participating group perhaps can be reduced at the appropriate time. If resources are not adjusted, then the risk is an imbalance in the opposite direction to the original skew, which would become a waste of resources as the target had already been met. And of course, some specific resources may be necessary to maintain the desired balance.
All areas or industries which have traditionally been the enclave of either sex should not be allowed to continue to exclude the other gender group, and steps need to be taken to break these areas down so that a sustainable and more even balance may be achieved. This suggested approach targeting for the 50:50, and treating equals with the same resources, training and internal opportunities, should be applied to all badly skewed enclaves, and more urgently to existing predominantly male or female fields.
Employers need to employ the best people for their jobs and organisation. They should recognise that looking at largely only one gender for employment is reducing their perspective talent pool. This will result on average in sub-optimal employees, and poorer performance will result with reduced effectiveness of their organisations.
There are many other benefits that come with a balanced and diverse work force, including reduced risk, as differing perspectives can uncover new critical aspects of the business − similar to how a business coach can help. This can also assist with the creation of new business growth strategies.
There is also the likelihood of greater creativity and better engagement with stake holders, who are better served by an organisation that reflects their own diversity.
All of these benefits may be achieved for the business or organisation by redressing any imbalances to the 50: 50 target.
Setting 50:50 targets on gender diversity (not quotas) and measuring progress to attain the 50:50 could improve outcomes based on gender diversity that result in the employment of the best people. Ultimately, this would positively impact performance of business and other organisations.
The allocation of resources to achieve 50:50 targets should be directed to both genders in specific areas. These resources need to meet gender skewness in detailed areas of business and other organisations, including governments. Approaches to meet the 50:50 would be based on simple measurable gender diversity rules, which should become publically available data for all significant organisations. This would need to include any areas that are significantly different to the 50:50 and detail the progress to meet this target, and also outline the amount of resources being spent on each gender to achieve the current desired outcomes.
An independent, confidential and experienced business coaching professional from International Business Mentors can assist business owners and CEOs to recognise the importance of gender balance. When addressed and implemented properly, the benefits are significant, being an integral part of business growth strategies and making for a more productive and harmonious workforce.
Call International Business Mentors today to discuss how a business mentor or business coach can help.