Aug 17

Driving Corporate Performance by Gender Diversity

Stephan Polomski
Stephan Polomski is director human resources, coach and trainer

Demographic studies forecast a sensitive shortage of technical experts and managers in Europe in the next years, latest from 2015 on. The need for top talent in natural science, technology and engineering shapes the structural frame in which companies in Europe start to rethink their recruiting and development strategies for human capital. All of a sudden intercontinental labor markets and their workforces become interesting again in governmental discussions but much trendier it seems to put an eye on women in one´s own country.

It is trendy – but is it really necessary?

Some facts:

In its study “Women Matter” McKinsey and Company foresees 24 million positions which cannot be staffed in Europe until the year 2040 and pretends with other policies towards the target group of women this figure might shrink down to only 3 million.

The German Institute for Economic Research just publicized its Leadership Monitor 2010 and came to the conclusion that in Germany the gender gap in leading management positions remained with 27 % the same since 2006. For Europe in total this figure is only 11 % according to McKinsey and Company. In top management positions like CEO or Chairperson, says the German Institute for Economic Research, the contingent of women is only 2,5 % in Germany´s TOP 200 companies and less than 1 % in Germany´s TOP 100.

The global gender gender gap was measured worldwide by the World Economic Forum. This survey comes up with an impressive list of barriers for leadership which I would like to quote in full length:

-          Masculine corporate culture

-          General norms and cultural practices in your country

-          Lack of role models

-          Lack of opportunities for critical work experience and responsibility

-          Lack of company leadership commitment to diversity

-          Lack of mentoring and networks

-          Lack of childcare facilities

-          Lack of acceptance of the use of diversity policies and practices

-          Lack of flexible work solutions

-          Lack of adequate work-life-balance solutions

-          Lack of monitoring participation of women

-          Lack of adequate “re-entry” opportunities

-          Lack of target-setting for participation of women

-          Lack of adequate information about existing diversity policies and practices

-          Lack of adequate parental leave and benefits

-          Inadequate labor laws & regulations in your country

The question arises, why should the male dominated corporate world react to tear down these barriers? The current system is running, so why change it? – Just because we are talking about diversity, equality, human rights, and equal opportunities of a marginalized group of society you should take care of?

No. There are three hard reasons for real guys to get going (with a side effect of becoming care guys):

1. Winning financially by gender diversity

By utilizing the human capital of highly educated women from universities (which there are in the pipeline!) you foster growth if these persons really occupy the position they had been educated for! Furthermore studies of McKinsey and Company or Gerhard Schwarz show correspondences in between a high financial corporate performance as well as efficiency with mixed leadership teams.

2. Strengthening your employer brand by gender diversity

A place where (not only gender) diversity is part of the lived culture is a place where openness and respect are true and where employees can develop trust and creativity relying on their own identity and potential in order to outperform and work motivated! Furthermore studies of McKinsey and Company, Dorion Sagan, and Gary Powell demonstrate that women have a leadership style which is often more clearly shaped by emotional intelligence and a caring attitude. This creates not only a cultural change towards more productivity (see above) but also fosters employee binding.

“Driving corporate performance by gender diversity also means implementing caring leadership!”

And at this point, it is obvious that diving corporate performance by gender diversity also means implementing the principles of caring leadership as we might suppose that according to a wider range of emotional intelligence most women are predestinated to be the better caring leaders.

3. Creating a manifold competitive advantage by gender diversity

We already mentioned demographic change and workforce shortage as reasons which forces companies in Europe to change recruiting and development strategies of human capital. Only companies who can staff positions for technology experts and leaders will remain competitive. And no wonder, that, according to McKinsey and Company, rating agencies are starting to measure gender diversity as KPI for corporate performance and investment recommendations.

Three good reasons – however, companies and especially managers who are in charge today cannot handle this task of change alone.

It is not only about changing mindsets and attitudes, values and convictions in the existing male dominated corporate cultures and leadership approaches. Society and politics have to act as well, as sociological patterns since the Stone Age are on trial. And this includes women as well if they want to positively answer the question how to find a way in between family planning and the quest for leadership.

Economically speaking there is no doubt, that women must play a major role in the corporate world.

Some suggestions how to enable organizations to implement some tools I will present in my upcoming blog.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 17th, 2010 at 20:04 and is filed under Human Resources, Leadership, Management. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.

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