When women are in leadership roles with the authority to hire, this has positive benefits for the entire organization. Not only does it show a commitment to empowering women and raising them up through the glass ceiling, but it directly influences diversity across the board.
The World Economic Forum shared data drawn from LinkedIn over a decade ago using the software industry as a lens. In 2007, around 10% of partners and chief officers in those companies were women. When looking at associate-level hires, fewer than one-quarter were women. In the following ten years, the number of women in leadership roles at tech companies jumped to 14%, and the associate level representation went up to 30%.
Do Women Hire More Women?
As the numbers above show, women are likely to hire more women, but it doesn’t stop there. Women, who often have a difficult time shattering the glass ceiling on their own, tend to focus on diversity at large, seeing other opportunities for the company to branch out and include a broader range of employee perspectives. That’s good news for all marginalized groups.
Women tend to be somewhat more averse to risk when hiring others, meaning they bring a very strategic and focused effort to the table. Women’s hiring decisions are often scrutinized more closely, too, and women know this.
One of the reasons it’s so hard to find women at the top ranks of many fields is because some fields don’t have gender diversity at any level, meaning there are fewer women to promote. Most companies don’t set out to do this purposely, but unconscious bias means that women are just not hired or promoted in the same numbers or at the same speed as their male counterparts.
Companies with gender diversity in leadership fare much better than their competitors. Just how does that benefit them? In a few ways:
- They make better business decisions 73% of the time
- They have 45% higher earnings per share
- They have a 48% higher operating margin
- They have a 42% higher return on sales
So now that we know the problem, how do we fix it? It’s clear the same old approach just isn’t lifting up diverse candidates often enough. It starts with giving women and diverse candidates access to the same kinds of tools that have been built in for men for years.
That looks like:
- Providing mentorship and internship opportunities that target women and diverse candidates to introduce them to new fields, companies, and opportunities. Pair these women interns and mentees with women in leadership.
- Executive sponsorship programs
- Succession planning that takes women into account when senior leaders are making their plans to step down
- Providing networking opportunities across departments or in local communities with women who can help lift one another up or serve as support systems for one another
- Setting specific diversity goals in the workplace from recruitment to final hires
- Offering flexible work schedules and childcare benefits to make a workplace an appealing place for women
- Remove words from your job descriptions that are proven to discourage women. OnGig offers a Text Analyzer to help check the language.
- Recruit internally for leadership roles by looking at women
To fix the pipeline issue, companies must all make internal mandates and goals around the process of evaluating their progress. Women who don’t see women in leadership, being promoted, or getting training opportunities might decline a job opportunity with a company for those reasons alone. It’s not enough to say “we’re working on it” or “we care about diversity.”
If you’re not sure where to start, look at the numbers. Look at the executives, leadership roles, pay, and promotion rates. Where does your company have room for improvement? What programs or initiatives can you implement to strive for better targets and performance across these categories?
Specificity is key for achieving better gender diversity for companies; set goals and hold yourself accountable to them as a team.