While many companies have made great efforts to improve their gender diversity, there are still positive steps that can be taken. Out of all the companies that make up the Fortune 500, only 24 are run by women, showing how far the world of business has to come before it reaches true equality.
However, most firms are either keen to diversify their workforce - but unsure how to go about doing so - or are unsure why it is such an important consideration; after all, isn’t how a person performs more important than their gender?
Well, we’re here to explain both of these issues, especially when it comes to your organisation hiring more women. We’d like to show you how empowering female staff can prove to be a great option for your business and your overall workforce.
why empower women in the workplace?
The vast majority of people would agree that men and women are equal when it comes to performance, so leaving out one sex will only limit the talent pool you have access to. Empowering women in the workplace is actually a great way to improve your company’s performance, morale and reputation, all of which have very clear benefits.
First of all, the research shows fairly conclusively that the more gender-diverse a company is, the better it is likely to perform. McKinsey has found that companies in the top quartile in terms of gender diversity are 15 per cent more likely to earn more than their industry median, while businesses in the bottom quartile are more likely to be lagging behind.
This applies to the overall workforce, but it is particularly impactful when it comes to management. In the UK, for every ten per cent more gender-diverse a company’s senior-executive team became, its earnings before interest and taxes increased by 3.5 per cent.
So why does empowering women increase business performance? There are a range of theories. For example, women are typically better at picking up on non-verbal cues, making them better communicators than men. A diverse team will also be likely to have more diverse life experiences, providing a wider range of perspectives to any project.
how you can empower the women in your company?
So if a diverse workforce is so clearly superior to one that is overwhelmingly male, why do women only make up 9.7 per cent of all executives in FTSE 100 companies? Part of it is prejudice, but many hiring managers are uncomfortable setting quotas on hiring a certain number of women, seeing this as unfair.
One study suggests an alternative to this is to start from the top. Companies with female directors are much more likely to have more women in their senior leadership team as well, and therefore more likely to hire female candidates at a lower level.
This isn’t because women are prejudiced against men or have a particular agenda to prioritize female hiring. It’s more likely a result of having different perspectives. An all-male hiring panel may not be as able to spot a woman’s strengths as a more diverse one, as men typically value slightly different things.
Where a man will stereotypically value aggressive traits like confidence and a strong demeanour, a woman will often prioritize so-called “soft skills” like empathy and communication. This is not to say that one approach is better than the other, but that a diverse workforce is one with multiple strengths and fewer weaknesses.
Aim to promote the women your company currently has, especially when it comes to the top positions; remember, the research shows this will help your business’ overall performance, so it’s a win-win.