Category Archives: Gender Diversity

Global Workforce Gender Diversity: It’s Not Happening

Data Point Tuesday

Focusing on diversity in the workplace is an essential step in building a great culture. Advancing gender diversity is a key focus area that organizations should look to, armed with the knowledge that there is still significant progress to make before most workplaces achieve true gender equality. Women are still significantly underrepresented at all levels in the workforce worldwide. Mercer’s 2013 Human Capital Report found that only 60%-70% of the eligible female population participates in the global workforce, while male participation is in the high 80’s. In a recent diversity study by Mercer based on 178 submissions from 164 companies in 28 countries covering 1.7 million employees, Mercer explores this issue and proposes solutions. Three key facts emerged from Mercer’s data:

  • Women continue to trail men in overall workforce participation and in representation at the professional through executive levels
  • Current female hiring, promotion, and retention rates are insufficient to create gender equality over the next decade
  • Current talent flows will move more women into top roles over the next decade but not in North America

Labor Force ParticipationHow can organizations change their approach to diversity in a way that effectively combats these gaps? Mercer’s study highlights the current key drivers of gender diversity, aiming to help organizations understand what drives diversity the most and help focus their approach.

The data show that organizations who have broad and holistic approaches to support female talent have more comparable talent flows for women and men than those who do not. Additionally Mercer finds that formal accountability has little significance on increasing gender diversity when removed from real leadership engagement. At organizations where leaders are active and engaged in diversity programs, more women are present throughout the organization, in top leadership roles, and there is more equality in talent flows between men and women. Another key driver of gender diversity is that active management of talent creates more favorable results than traditional diversity programs that are put in place to support women’s needs. Organizations that actively manage pay equity vs. making passive commitments ensure that women and men have equal access to profit and loss responsibilities, and proactively support flexible work arrangements driving gender equality at a greater rate than those with traditional diversity programs. Nontraditional solutions and innovative programs impact organizations long- term ability to retain female talent. Specifically, customized retirement solutions and health related programs have been successful in helping organizations to better attract, develop and retain female talent.

Mercer points out a disappointing statistic from the World Bank, which reports that global labor force participation rates for women ages 15-64 have actually declined over the last two decades. The discrepancy between female and male representation is even higher in top roles. Women make up less than 5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies, hold less than 25% of management roles, and just less than 19% of board roles globally. Since the 1980’s leap in pay equality for women things have since stagnated. Clearly new strategies are required. Making sure that women are equal participants in the workforce has broader implications than just fostering great culture. Economists have predicted that eliminating the gap between male and female employment rates could boost GDP in the U.S by 5%, in Japan by 9%, in the UAE by 12%, and in Egypt by 34%.

Organizations can take reports such as Mercer’s and use them as a roadmap. The key drivers of gender diversity listed there can easily be leveraged as a reference when identifying you own diversity strategies and areas of focus. For a more expanded list of ways organizations can create greater diversity, take a look at Mercer’s full report.

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Filed under China Gorman, Data Point Tuesday, Diversity, Gender Diversity, Gender equality, Mercer, Workplace Studies

Leadership Challenges, Critical Skills and the Importance of Gender Diversity

Data Point Tuesday
Development Dimensions International (DDI)
and The Conference Board have recently released a report, “Global Leadership Forecast 2014|2015.” This report, the seventh of its kind published by DDI, includes survey responses from 13,124 leaders, 1,528 global human resource executives, and 2,031 participating organizations. The volume of respondents allowed DDI to look at findings from a variety of perspectives – multinational vs. local corporations, spans four leadership levels and leaders/HR professionals of different genders, ages, 48 countries, and 32 major industry categories. The report is comprehensive and contains more than one blog post’s worth of data and insight, so I’ll just pull a few of the highlights here… But if you find the data interesting make sure to take a look at the full report for more information!

Let’s start by looking at top challenges of leadership cited in the report. According to the research, the top four CEO challenges are Human Capital, Customer Relations, Innovation, and Operational Excellence. When responding CEOs were asked to identify strategies to address the human capital challenge, four of the top strategies cited included a focus on leadership:

  • improve leadership development programs,
  • enhance the effectiveness of senior management teams,
  • improve the effectiveness of frontline supervisors and managers, and
  • improve succession planning

Though the top three cited strategies for combating the human capital challenge were to: provide employee training and development, raise employee engagement, and improve performance management processes and accountability, the fact that a focus on leadership was present among the top 10 strategies suggests that leaders recognize that organizations cannot develop and retain highly engaged, productive employees without effective leadership and leadership development programs.

Top CEO ChallengesCEOs surveyed also identified the leadership attributes and behaviors they perceived as most critical to success as a leader:

  • retain and develop talent
  • manage complexity
  • lead change
  • lead with integrity, and
  • have an entrepreneurial mind-set.

Unfortunately, no more than 50% of leaders assessed their own readiness to address such tasks as “very prepared.” And HR leaders’ perceptions were even more grim, with only 9% indicating their leaders were “very ready” to address the human capital challenge.

When HR professionals were asked to rank two critical leader skills for leaders’ success in the next three years, and how much their organization’s current development programs focuses on them, the level of focus of most skills corresponded to how critical the skills were perceived to be for the future. However, there were some interesting exceptions:

Critical SkillsAs you can see in the above graphic, two skills that were listed by HR as most critical (fostering employee creativity and innovation/leading across countries and cultures) are not actually being focused on, while building consensus and commitment/communicating and interacting with others are two skills not listed by HR as highly critical to the future yet are being heavily focused on. DDI informs us that because these are foundational skills it’s easy for HR to either overemphasize or undervalue them, which supports the data we see in the graphic.

While DDI and The Conference Board’s report is chock full of fascinating data like those mentioned above, it has been getting wide attention for a particular section of the report: the section on gender diversity. The report indicates that organizations with better financial performance have more women in leadership roles. Organizations in the top 20% for financial performance report 37% of all leaders are women vs. organizations in the bottom 20%, which report that only 19% of all leaders are women.

Women in LeadershipWhile this clearly points to the positive benefits of gender diversity, at the same time, it highlights how disturbingly imbalanced the gender demographics still are when it comes to leadership. DDI’s survey explains this imbalance in several ways. There was no significant difference between the men and women in the study when it came to leadership skills or ability to handle management and business challenges, however, a noted difference between sexes were their levels of confidence. Women were less likely than men to rate themselves as effective leaders, as having completed international assignments, lead across geographies or countries, or lead geographically dispersed teams. The study cites these global or more visible leadership experiences as key missed opportunities, because leaders who had access to these experiences were far more likely to be promoted and to advance more quickly in their organizations.

Gender DifferencesThe bottom line is that this data supports what we know about diversity in its entirety: fostering and encouraging diversity in the workplace is always something to strive for as it inherently leads to more diversity of ideas, problem solving, productivity and financial success!

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Filed under China Gorman, Critical Skills, Data Point Tuesday, Development Dimensions International, Gender Diversity, HR, HR Data, Human Resources, Leadership, Leadership Challenges, The Conference Board, Workplace Studies