Advancing Women Advances Business

By: Michelle Bogan

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Advancing women advances business. You’re probably thinking, yes, we should do that, but I have ten other burning issues right now and have to make sure I hit my performance targets for the quarter.

Let me put it to you another way: Not advancing women creates a huge missed opportunity for your business.

  • If you have fewer than 40% women in senior leadership, and less than parity in the rest of your organization, odds are you leaving money on the table.
  • If you have fewer than 40% women in senior leadership and less than parity in the rest of your organization, you very likely do not have a meritocracy, even if you think you do.
  • If you think that internal women’s networks, unconscious bias training, and a collegial workplace fix the issue, you are only addressing a small part of the problem.

I know all of this for a fact because I have led organizations through all of these scenarios.

[Related: Diversity Without Power is Still Not Enough]

Here is what I have learned from ten years of working on this: Bias is embedded in the culture and operations of every company.

I want to say it again, because this is so important to understand: Bias is embedded in the culture and operations of every company.

It creeps into the day-to-day ways of working, decision-making, assumptions, and assignment of opportunities. It is like this because this was the norm forever — and it wasn’t called bias, it was just how we all worked. So undoing that takes major work.

It requires focused, comprehensive, metrics-driven work that the CEO is accountable for. Accountable as in delivering measurable results, with scorecards, KPIs, and transparent communication.

[Related: How to Avoid the Bias You Didn’t Even Know You Had]

Until you do this, you are putting key elements of your business at potential risk.

  • Prospective clients will not hire you if your organization does not represent the population at large. 70% of CEOs are now reviewing supplier diversity metrics when selecting service providers.
  • Prospective investors will not give you money if you don’t have women in senior leadership roles and plans to get more of them there. Major financial institutions are starting to set minimum percentages of leadership roles that must be filled by women at the companies they invest in.
  • Current employees will not stay unless they see women they respect AND can relate to making it to the top. They need to see it to believe it.
  • Recruiting efforts will be in vain if you do not have parity and inclusion values embedded in your operations and culture. Today’s workforce demands values-driven work environments. If you don’t have one, they will not work for you. If you say you have one and you don’t really, they will leave — and out you on social media.

The women in every role need to have equal equity to the men. By this I mean equal pay, equal leveling, equal power, equal voice, equal vote, equal opportunities, equal support, and equal chance to take risks, fail, learn, and thrive.

Men are critical partners in making this happen and making it last. We need to work together to deliver real change that the company, employees, clients, and investors can all benefit from.

Advancing women is a business imperative. For every business.

[Related: Five Reasons Reviewing Your Company is the Best Career Move You Can Make]

Throughout her twenty-five-year career, Michelle Bogan has mentored colleagues and clients, founded and led women’s groups, and helped promote many women and men to leadership positions. In 2018, she founded Equity for Women to advance the mission of empowering women at work.

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Originally published at https://www.ellevatenetwork.com.

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