Gender Diversity in the Workplace: Altruistic or just good business?
Gender diversity. Two words you generally see plastered across a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility documentation or ‘Why Work With Us’ Careers page. Interestingly, it is not often you see the words ‘gender diversity’ in companies’ strategic business plans.
Through working at Women in Digital, a community organisation dedicated to connecting, educating and empowering our way to gender diversity in digital, and as a Technology Consultant for a Hunt & Co. Consulting I am talking to key stakeholders, successful tech founders and executives every day.
And when I ask the question ‘why is gender diversity important to you?’, I am met with similar responses. These vary from ‘It’s the right thing to do’, to ‘I have a daughter and a son and I want them to have the same opportunities’, to ‘It is just something our organisation values’.
These are all terrific answers. And they are all correct.
It is the right thing to do, the next generation of the Australian workforce irrespective of gender do deserve access to the same opportunities and working for an organisation that has diversity and inclusion ingrained into their culture is amazing.
But what I rarely, and I mean rarely, hear are the words ‘It makes commercial sense.’
Which really does surprise me when we know that in Australia:
- Females make up 51% of the population — a large opportunity for talent acquisition in a candidate-short market
- Profitability, performance and productivity increase under female leadership
- Female top-tier managers add 6.6% to market value of ASX companies
Looking more broadly, the McKinsey reports Women Matter: Time to accelerate and Delivering through diversity looked at business performance of 1,000 organisations across 15 countries and found that:
- Gender diversity is correlated with both profitability and value creation
“Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform their national industry median on EBIT margin and 27% on EP margin.” — McKinsey & Company.
- Not prioritising diversity comes at a cost (literally)
“Overall, companies in the bottom quartile for both gender and ethnic/cultural diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability than were all other companies in our data set. In short, not only were they not leading, they were lagging.” — McKinsey & Company.
Despite knowing ALL of this, I can only recall two times I have heard business decision makers acknowledge the power of diversity for their financial bottom line.
The first time, through my role as a recruiter, we received a call from a client. They ran their own successful agency and missed out on a bid. They had put their agency’s hat in the ring for a female-centric eCommerce store. It would have required them to do it all — the brand positioning, copywriting, Facebook & Google Ads, graphic design, social media marketing… they would essentially be taking ownership of the brand’s voice.
And they lost the bid.
Why? The female-centric brand ultimately decided to go with another agency with a gender diverse team. Our client, at the time, had a 15-male strong team and the bulk of their case studies were centred around male-centric brands. The agency owner had never considered that his talent acquisition method of hiring mates and mates of mates would cost him business. Since that interaction, I have often wondered how many other potential clients had they missed out on that they simply didn’t know about?
And before the Comment Section of this article gets bombarded, let me tell you… it goes both ways! I know firsthand of female-strong agencies that missed out on working for male-centric brands as well for the exact reason.
When it comes to gender diversity in the workplace, the goal has only ever been and will only be that the workplaces are representative of the society they operate in and of the customers they service.
Despite me knowing the importance of gender diversity for business performance, nothing crystallised the business case for gender diversity quite like the second time. I wrote about this in the article ‘The Ultimate Business Case Study for Gender Diversity’ — click here to read.
Knowing the importance in improving gender diversity in your teams is one thing but knowing where to start can be a little trickier. With years of experience in recruitment, employer branding and building diverse teams, the team at Hunt & Co. can help. Reach out to Carly via email, firstname.lastname@example.org
You can stay up-to-date with Carly Shearman by connecting with her on LinkedIn.