Not Just About Gender

It’s universally accepted that increased efforts needs to be made to improve the gender balance in business and politics; at the current rate of progress it will take 40 years to achieve something approaching gender balance in boardrooms; quite astounding since it’s nearly 40 years since discrimination on the grounds of sex was made illegal with the Sex Discrimation Act 1975.

We may agree from a social justice point of view that an increased effort needs to be made to improve gender balance, but we also know that the majority of businesses will only do what increases profits … why wouldn’t they?

What’s changing is that we now have evidence that gender balance pays, it’s good for bottom line business.

When I talk to my fellow chairmen, I am heartened that they are prioritising gender balance in their organisations, not only because it is the right thing to do, but more importantly because they recognise the benefits for their businesses and for society of drawing from the widest talent pool available and of building the strongest leadership teams we can” Marcus Aguis, Chairman, Barclays.

Bottom Line Studies:

  • Report by McKinsey found that gender-balanced companies have a 56% higher operating profit compared to male-only companies
  • Ernst & Young looked at the 290 largest publicly-listed companies and found that the earnings at companies with at least one woman on the board were significantly higher than in those that had no female board member
  • Report by Catalyst, the US research organisation:

Return on Equity: On average, companies  with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those  with the least by 53 percent.

– Return on Sales: On average, companies with the highest  percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least  by 42 percent.

– Return on Invested Capital: On average,  companies with the highest percentages of women board directors  outperformed those with the least by 66 percent.

 I assume that if you are already aware of the bottom line benefits (above), you are already assessing where you are in your business and taking the required action!

Back to the title of this post “Not just about Gender” whether you are motivated by social justice or bottom line business results (or both) the facts are, that if you have a business where ALL staff at all levels, ages, sexuality, race, abilities, (The Equality Act 2010) are able to be themselves, they feel valued, their contribution is recognised, feel safe to make mistakes and learn you are well on your way to blowing your competition out of the water!

Business now all have the same access to technology, there is very little to differentiate between competitors in the market place .. its your people, your team – they are difference that will make the difference.

My challenge to you is:

  • take down that dusty mission & vision statement
  • tear up your policies
  • stop thinking there are 5 steps to achieve anything for example Gender Balance
  • think bigger .. think about what YOUR BUSINESS STANDS FOR – and the gender balance etc will flow from that

and then:

  • act as if there are no rules – and instead:
  • agree “What Does Your Business Stand For?” a bit like a manifesto …
  • what do you value in your people and your Business? e.g. authenticity, respect, difference and individualism, healthy challenge at all levels, equality (just some of mine)
  • now look at what you do and how you do it (policies & procedures), write these so that they flow from your ‘manifesto’
    • your key people policies: recruitment, development just 2 examples
  • and check: do your actions, do the actions of your team embody these values

I have worked as an Equalities Consultant and Trainer for 15 years and seen all too often great sounding mission statements and policies but all too often this isn’t reflected at all levels.

Businesses seem fixated to make it as complicated as possible – it really isn’t.

If you would like to work with me to ensure your Business has Balance Contact me for the easy way and together we will:

  1. Uncover your Business Values and What Your Business Stands For
  2. Review Key Policies: do these flow from what you Value
  3. Staff Communication and Development