From our MD, Cath Nolan:
Most organisations have great initiatives in diversity – either in response to a Gender Agenda, or simply because it’s part of a broader People Strategy.
Many of these initiatives have been around for years. Why are things different now? Because right now it seems like everybody’s doing it. The collective intent is more in favour of diversity than status quo. The business world recognises diversity as one of many strategies for competitive advantage and there is now an increasing PR risk for those left behind.
Diversity is no longer owned exclusively by the placard-waving altruist. It’s a primary business objective.
So what’s working in Gender Diversity right now? Let us share what we see.
As you scan our Top Twelve, perhaps you’ll find some old familiars? We’ll get to that shortly… but here’s our top pick list of favoured initiatives… which do you have in place? Which might be worth consideration?
FIND THE CHAMPIONS & VOICE YOUR SUPPORT
Seek out the diversity champions at all levels of your business. Connect them, connect with them, advocate for them. If the champion has a high profile within the organisation, consider a visual campaign… see our next top pick…
LinkedIn ran a fabulous visual campaign a little while back. Employees standing wherever they were caught, holding an A4 piece of paper detailing their commitment. Add in a #HashTag and the global campaign had the impact of solidarity. Could you use the combination in your office, an “I’ll stand with Jo by …”?
An extension of the visuals… The photos on the walls of corporate Australia and government, education, agriculture, politics, healthcare… they are primarily of middle aged white men. It sends a message. It implies that if you’re not a middle-aged white male, you’re not going to have profile or influence here. You will not be celebrated. If you have a photo opportunity, be SURE that more women are in the photo.
The photo commemorates a successful project? Be sure that the women on the project team are in the photo. Then next time, work out how to get more women involved in steering the project so they’re the most obvious choice for photo inclusion.
Michael Spence, Vice Chancellor of Sydney University speaks of the need to be brave in uncovering your blind spots. What are yours and which true friends can you ask to be honest with you in helping to uncover them?
At all levels and at all ages, whether in your team, for the team who follow or for your kids … make a conscious effort to celebrate women. Make a noise about achievement.
It’s one thing to give advice to women about how they can navigate the organisation. It’s quite something else to speak highly of those women behind their backs. Be an advocate.
MAKE ALLOWANCES FOR BIAS
I don’t mean make excuses for bias, I mean acknowledge it. Call it out. Make it a conscious bias. Lori Tyrell of One3HR is acclaimed in this space and graciously joined Gender Gap Gone to create an Intro to Unconscious Bias Webinar with advice on how to work WITH bias. Check that out here for free access.
Not convinced that bias exists in your team? The Better Than Average Effect ensures you probably don’t. Check out this clip from McKinsey & Co – it’s a short hilarious must-see. Talk about revealing blind spots!
EQUALITY IS NOT JUST FOR WOMEN
If all benefits are exclusively for women you will further marginalise, rather than support. The Department of Industry & Science ahs had great success with their Teleworking program. Project initiator and GM HR attributes that largely to the fact that it’s a program for all employees. In fact they’ve quite deliberately encouraged men to participate.
The next step for them is working childcare considerations into the teleworking model. We’re looking forward to hearing more as that unfolds.
ENCOURAGE WOMEN TO LEAN IN
It’s been researched and quoted over and over. Women won’t raise their hands unless sure they can do the job. We see confidence as just one part of that. Underpinning it though is clarity. We find that when women have a well-defined wish list, they’re more inclined to Lean In. In face this fundamental insight is where all of our programs start.
What is the impact in real terms? We have a training video called Career Joy, as part of our Executive Presence program. At the start of the hour, 50% said they were very unclear of their values. The other 50% said that they were somewhat clear, but that their key stakeholders weren’t aware of what they stood for. At the end of the hour 85% of participants say that they’re now clear on what they stand for and what they’re chasing. 15% said they’re not clear yet but are confident they have the tools to get clear AND have allocated time to do the self-reflection for it.
Subsequent weeks in the program saw reported increases in confidence to the tune of 95%
Opportunities arise all the time. If you’re unsure of the benefits it’s easy to let the opportunities pass. Help the women in your teams to get clear. They don’t need to have road-map, just a checklist to compare opportunities against.
GIVE THE GIRL A CHAIR
Similar to the last point, but more proactive. Advocate for women in your team. Give them exposure to the next seat before they think they’re ready.
NOT MORE THAN
Not comfortable with ‘we must appoint a woman to this role’? Try this instead: for any appointment where the majority are of a certain type, determine that you will consider ‘Not more than 2’ of that type for the role. The team is all elephants? In the shortlist of 5-7 we will consider not more than 2 elephants.
For all new appointments, if all else is equal: appoint the woman. If skills, experience, etc are all equal and you have a male & a female applicant at the final hurdle… appoint the woman. If all else is equal.
This is our pick of what’s working, but what’s working for you?
Perhaps you’ve tried some of these before and weren’t impressed by the result? A great program with the wrong spin can add to the problem, not the solution.
Even initiatives that have been deemed failure in the past should be revisited with brave evaluation. Did these programs have perceived widespread support? Were there systematic obstacles preventing their success?
The challenge of the Gender Gap is both systemic and nuanced and requires a combination of solutions. Any one initiative alone and unsupported is certainly doomed to failure. And so is the organisation that allows that to be so.
Netflix in August announced unlimited paid maternity & paternity leave. Qantas sponsors childcare centres for employees and along with ANZ, Westpac, Microsoft and many others they also offer 3 months parental leave (not just maternity leave).
How does your business stack up? When employees are evaluating their many options, how do you compare? Will you win the war for top talent?
We find that business leaders and disruptors are often so busy delivering to their objectives that they don’t have time to look outside for solutions. ‘Looking outside’ often means full day conferences and research missions. And yet. Many individuals are leading projects – some with success and some with failures, both large and small. These individuals are keen to share a conversation.
That’s one of the reasons we chose the format we did, for Gender Gap Gone. If we were going to do this, it had to deliver expert advice and success stories in a flexible format for ease of access. But an absolute fundamental for us was that it has to be low cost. We didn’t want to create a conversation that was too costly for businesses to sign off on.
Luckily, being a tech start-up our online business model facilitates a very low cost conversation. What’s more, by joining the conversation from your desktop or mobile device you don’t need to quarantine full days or evenings from your already full schedule.
So that’s our Top Pick… what’s yours?
An executive coach and our CEO here at Gender Gap Gone, Cath is renowned for her expertise in individual and organisational development. With over 16 years experience consulting to over 500 businesses globally in this space, Cath has coached over 300 individuals and worked with some of Australia’s best loved and most recognised brands.
Cath is a frequent key note speaker nationally, invited to share the stage with leaders of industry on Leadership and Career Advantage, particularly for women and diversity groups.
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