Most organizations start to think about gender issues when they have a “gender problem”. This can either be an issue of verbal sexism, the question of “how to find women”, or the question of how to keep women and “bring them into top positions”.
Already being aware of the fact that a more diverse workforce leads to more diverse and innovative results and a higher competitiveness, hiring and keeping women appears to be central for global organizations: At the beginning of this year, 800 global enterprises acknowledged that one of the three hot topics is talent (findings from C-Suite Challenge 2019™ ).
The ability to attract and retain highly qualified, innovative people also includes the question on how to develop “next generation – leaders” – people who are aware of the fact that diversity means accepting and appreciating different life styles and thus different ways of working.
Most of gender consulting thus is about fairness, respect and communication, about how people would like to work together.
Putting it in a nutshell, there are 3 main success factors to implement gender equality in an organization:
1. First: Get Gender on the Agenda. Get it on the agenda of every meeting. When it comes to new business, reflect upon it from a gender perspective. What is it, that makes gender balance important for your business? Is it the customers who are men* and women*? Is it your cooperation partners who decided to only work with companies that have a gender-balanced workforce? Is it different topics that you want to have addressed by people with different biographical backgrounds? When it comes to organizing a conference, talk about how to attract a gender-balanced panel and/or gender-balanced audience.
Think about how gender might be inscribed in your recruiting and promotion processes and if you tend to push only some, very similar people in the company. Reflect upon the past and decide what you can do better. In case the gender relevance of a topic or project might not be clear from the beginning on, ask your team about your blind spot. Get support from an external expert.
2. Second: Don’t waste your time with women’s programs. Build an inclusive environment that is open for diverse thoughts and diverse people. Set up teams where people come from diverse backgrounds – in career, biography, mindset – in order to challenge each other with their working and communication style.
Most importantly: Do not delegate gender to a “gender officer”. Gender equality can only be effective if it is linked to leadership. When every leader of an organization is aware of his* or her* role in assuring a gender-sensitive work place, this is going to succeed. It is not going to succeed if you hire one person being responsible for “gender issues”. Think about it, you don’t hire a person for “growth issues”, do you?
3. Third: Don’t think about gender & people management as something that “could be done later”, “something soft” or “something additional”. It’s not an add-on – it’s key. Key decisions in companies are linked with KPIs – do the same with gender. Set precise targets for every year and make sure with the whole company where you want to go in terms of business figures. Treat gender equality targets like other business targets: Follow those figures and overcome the barriers. As soon as you start to reach your goals, you will become aware of the strongest limitations and you will be able to address them.
In the following weeks, Marita will write about about gender myths, the Gender Pay Gap, sexism in organizations and about how new work and the expectations of the Millenial Generation require for a new and inclusive leadership style.
Do you have questions?
Contact Marita by mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
About our cooperation with Marita Haas:
A few weeks ago we started a cooperation with Marita Haas, an expert in people management, gender & new work. She will be supporting us at weXelerate with the following topics:
- Developing a joint idea of leadership in an agile and fast-driven environment
- Setting up a respectful and open environment – deal with change and establish trust
- Being empathetic leaders @ weXelerate
Marita’s core business is Gender Consulting. She did research in the area of People Management, Gender and Organizations for more than 14 years, before she became a consultant. She worked with VICE/Virtue on how to avoid sexual harassment; set up an OKR system with CONDA Crowdfunding and designed flexible work concepts for Amnesty International. In her blog posts she will give us some insights in her work and her scientific background, capturing why gender equality is a hot topic in business.