Your Organization Lacks Self Awareness on Gender Equity. Here’s How to Fix It.
By Audrey McGuckin, CEO, WOTW -
I often hear CEOs say that their numbers around women leaders in the organization and their overall gender gap are great. They say, “Our numbers are really good! About 40% of our workforce is women.” I respond by saying, “Wow, that’s great!” but then I dive into the real question, “How many women do you have at the executive level?” They say something like “none” or “we have one.” And to me this is a HUGE red flag.
Why? These leaders lack the awareness to understand that a team that’s 40% women with only 1 at the executive level has A LOT of work to do. These numbers are not good. This gender gap is huge.
I work with leaders to develop their self awareness around this. After all, it’s not their fault. They’ve been sold a lie that having numbers like this are meaningful. Or they have a bunch of reasons why they can’t hire or keep women (as if it’s the women’s fault). These reasons and this lack of self awareness are more red flags that their approach to developing gender equity is not working.
Let’s start by saying, it’s not the women's fault. It’s the fault of the CEO. These CEOs are not leading the organization to create a workforce that’s more gender equitable. CEOs, I know you may not want to hear this hard truth but it’s real.
However, all is not lost. At WOTW, we help leaders turn their ships around and chart the course towards real, true gender equity. We use data to develop metrics and plans to bring women leaders up the ranks and attract new women leaders to their organizations. And these strategies work. Not to mention that companies with above-average diversity produce a greater proportion of revenue from innovation (45% of total) than from companies with below average diversity (26%).” (Forbes)
Another red flag I see: leaders saying that hiring women in their industry is really tough. There aren’t enough women to hire. I hear this in all kinds of industries, from tech to healthcare to construction and banking. But again CEOs this is just an excuse.
I’m sure you have women on your team that if they were developed could lead your organization. I’m sure you can train and incentivize your leaders to develop women within the organization. It just has to be something you believe in and focus on. The good news is that promoting within is much less expensive than hiring someone from outside the organization. So in fixing your gender equity issues you are also saving money!
Lastly, as a CEO you have to be willing to look at the data in a meaningful way. If you have one woman on your team and she’s in HR, that’s a problem. Why? Typically HR does not have a CEO or executive leadership track within an organization. So look at the data in new ways. Be open to what lies beneath the surface and be willing to change the way you lead. We know this is hard work but we’ve helped many do it and we know it can be done.
And, if you need help looking at your data in new ways or changing your gender equity approach, reach out. We’re always happy to help.
If you’re interested in transforming your leadership or organization, schedule a meeting with our Chief Client Officer, Erica Jossim. We’d love to help you.