Most organizations these days are committed to having more women in their organization across roles and levels. Some have defined the constitution of their workforce in terms of the number of women employees they aspire to have at each hierarchical level while others have only defined the overall desired percentage or gender ratio. But should gender diversity be only about hiring and retaining a certain number of women at the workplace? Should organizations consider gender diversity only as something "good to do"?
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There is hardly a metric that evaluates the impact of gender diversity on innovation or productivity. However, research reveals that women displayed higher leadership effectiveness in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. Accenture’s Getting to Equal Report 2020 identifies gender diversity as one of the 40 factors that influence advancement and characterizes a culture of equality. It also reveals that better gender diversity translates to better financial outcomes for organizations.
All the above indicate that gender diversity brings with it a clear competitive edge and who does not want that, right? So, now that this is established, let’s talk more about why it’s important to move the focus from numbers to the benefits of hiring more women in the workforce.
Diversity is good for business—it brings real advantages for strategy and implementation. It brings multiple, unique perspectives, leading to the development of better solutions to problems. For senior management roles, it could be better strategy creation, higher creativity and swifter innovation. For middle and entry-level management, it could be better problem-solving in implementation and more original ideas that can be shared with senior management.
Diversity: A force multiplier for innovation
While organizations take a lot of measures to improve their gender diversity across levels, it is also imperative to look at how the numbers have impacted business. What modular level changes can be seen after improving the gender diversity numbers? What is the advantage of having more women employees in the workforce?
All these factors can be measured and quantified in terms of knowledge capability, knowledge transfer, improvement in ideation numbers, and overall team morale and productivity. Studies have clearly shown that there is a high level of innovation when the diversity index (may not be only women) goes up in an organization.
Diverse teams inspire others
Sometimes the idea of gender diversity goals for teams and organizations can encounter resistance from a few team members, due to many reasons including conditioning and hiring challenges. To combat this, organizations should give examples of diverse teams that have performed well. Showcasing the positive outcomes and problem-solving ability of diverse teams helps in changing the focus from discussing diversity as a problem to be solved. Similarly, when women make it to the top, appreciate their skills and abilities rather than attributing their success to diversity imperatives in the organization. Bringing about this change can go a long way in creating a positive culture within teams.
Gender diversity infuses positivity in the workplace
As they strive for a culture change at the workplace, leaders must realize that it’s very important for them to always ascribe the success of employees to their achievements, rather than their gender or personal qualifications. When this is done repeatedly and effectively, everyone in the team feels valued and gender differences within the team get normalized, hence creating a positive workplace.
Ultimately, it is the people who move processes forward. Regardless of the advancements in technology, this will remain an organization’s strength. The onus rests on the managers of today, who will be the leaders of tomorrow, as to how they carry the agenda of both diversity and inclusion together and unleash innovation.