Gender Diversity: What Gets Measured, Gets Done

Gender Diversity: What Gets Measured, Gets Done

Over 20 years ago the management guru, Tom Peters, observed that effectively run businesses followed a number of key principles, including my two favourite: 1. MBWA – Managing By Walking Around and 2. What Gets Measured, Gets Done. It doesn’t matter what the specific issue is – Peters’ advice still holds true today. Listen up, therefore, if you’re in any way involved in gender diversity or responsible for promoting a gender-balanced organization.

McKinsey’s October 2010 quarterly report entitled Moving women to the top shows that senior executives believe that one of the best ways to boost gender diversity is for the CEO to be directly involved in monitoring the outcome or results of any diversity initiatives. This emphasizes the point that diversity has to be part of a business strategy embraced by senior management, and like any strategic initiative, results have to be monitored.

Diversity initiatives that are not an integral part of a strategic business plan are nothing more than window dressing – they are a defensive reaction to pressures from governments, shareholders, employees, and other industry bodies. How much data needs to be produced to convince business leaders that gender-balanced organizations deliver better long-term, sustainable results? McKinsey’s own study in Oct 2007 Women matter: Gender diversity, a corporate performance driver found that the 89 listed European companies with the highest levels of gender diversity also had higher returns on equity, operating results, and stock price growth than the averages in their respective sectors from 2005-2007. The non-profit organization Catalyst has also produced similar findings.

In the U.S. the majority of undergraduate degrees, almost half of the MBAs and the majority of PHD’s are awarded to women. Similar trends in education are happening throughout the developed world. Any kind of argument made to justify the lack of diversity which persists cannot be supported by the data. If an organization is serious about creating a well-balanced workforce, its CEO will lead the charge and follow the normal, commonsense business approach to making things happen:

 

Set targets
Get buy-in, across the whole organization, but especially managers
Implement actions to achieve targets
Monitor results
Reward results

If gender diversity is just an HR initiative, it will die in HR. Business leaders know this to be the case. The smart ones lead by example (MBWA in practice).

Inspired by 20+ years of balancing a high-powered career in international finance with an active family life, Christine founded The female capitalist™ in 2010. Through her consultancy practice Christine is committed to helping professional women achieve career-family success, as well as helping organizations reap the full benefits of female talent. Her book – Step Aside Superwoman! Career & Family is for Any Woman colorfully reveals how to strike the right balance between career goals and family aspirations, using a common set of values, strategies and skill sets.

Christine has an undergraduate degree in Foreign Languages from Georgetown University (Cum Laude) and an MBA in International Business from George Washington University (Beta Gamma Sigma scholar). She is also a tutor for Georgetown’s Graduate Program in International Management at Oxford University. Her tutorials cover the issues of gender equality from a public policy perspective as well as managing diversity within the workplace.

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