24 Sep Gender Diversity – How far have we come?
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about gender balance. I thought I’d do my own research to see how we are tracking towards that goal.
I often speak to highly intelligent and skilled women through my work and other varied networks. Many of them tell me they have put their careers on hold in order to care for their children. Depending on the gap, they sometimes find themselves in a situation where they lose touch with the market, eventually their self-confidence and often decide to not pursue their careers.
Only a few years ago after having 3 children I found myself heading in that same direction. The thought of returning to workforce was a scary thing for me. I was lucky to have the support of my family and a few amazing mentors who provided some guidance and helped me reskill myself and find a job I love.
So what I’m saying here is that all these incredible women who have lost faith in themselves have so much value to add and are truly unaware of it. There is nothing more empowering than a person following their passion and I am saddened to see so much talent wasted.
For all those women questioning themselves, let’s analyse some of the findings on this topic.
In Australian labour market women make up almost half of the workforce, however still only hold 37.5 per cent of full-time management positions**. That’s still low!
The recent data indicates that Corporate Australia is just short of its 30 per cent target for women on ASX200 boards*. It’s certainly an improvement but we are still far away from that 50% representation.
There has been a lot of data to support increased overall performance when there is a greater gender diversity.
According to a McKinsey research findings last year, the financial performance of companies who value gender diversity and have high numbers of female executives are 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability while that same research done in 2014 showed 15% for the same result***. This data reiterates the value women add to organisations from a financial standpoint.
Not only are companies more profitable with greater female representation in their senior positions, through research done by CNBC Make It on Fortune 500 companies, they also experience more innovation and creativity. What this translates to is that on average 20% more patents are produced in companies with more female executive representation.
In our professional experience we are always offering and recommending our clients a 50/50 gender balance in the shortlist we present them with. We are often pleasantly surprised by as real shift in our clients’ mindset and their support for a gender diverse workforce.
Here are some of my thoughts on what companies can do to reach that balance sooner:
- Ensure true flexibility for all employees regardless of their gender; actually walking the talk – every company is claiming to allow flexible work arrangements but how many are truly doing it?
- Re-skilling and providing mentorship to women re-entering workforce
- Offering roles that are challenging so women don’t get bored and disengaged
- Respecting their time with their families and not having unreasonable expectations for them to work out of hours and weekends
While our families should come first we feel that women can enjoy career advancements and strive to be great leaders. So for all you ladies out there who feel you are no longer employable and have lost touch with the business world please don’t lose hope. Just ask for advice on how to reskill yourselves and connect with your peers. As women, we also have great a responsibility in reaching that balance faster.
Finally we are seeing a real change in people’s mindsets and actions. Let’s continue this positive momentum.
Please share your thoughts/comments.
* Corporate Australia ‘within a whisker’ of 30 per cent women on ASX200 boards — now for 40 per cent?
By business reporter Nassim Khadem (Posted 30 Jan 2019)
**Women may have to wait another 80 years until they’re top dog; ABC News
By Specialist Reporting Team’s Alison Branley
***Delivering through diversity; January 2018 | McKinsey Report
By: Viviann Hunt, Lareina Yee, Sara Prince, and Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle