Did you know that only 7% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women? This is true despite the fact that the gender population split is approximately 50/50 in the US. It’s a sad reality, but when it comes to the workplace, the pace of change continues to be slow.
Recently, Kerry Gilliam, Director of Marketing at Talemetry, joined Rachel Cooke, Chief Operating Officer at Brandon Hall Group; Ashley Walvoord, Director of Global Talent Acquistion Strategy at Verizon; Cliff Stevenson, Principal Analyst Talent Acquisition & Workforce Management at Brandon Hall Group; and Claude Werder, Vice President Principal HCM Analyst at Brandon Hall Group, to present a webinar focused on the tools Fortune 500 companies can implement today to improve gender diversity.
The discussion was built on findings from Brandon Hall Group's newest Women in Leadership study with one of the most important being that companies must create a targeted effort to recruit and retain women leaders. Here is some of what was discussed:
The State of Gender Equity in Leadership Today
95% of individuals in the Women in Leadership study believe that gender equity in leadership is an important strategy. But when asked if they believed their companies felt the same way the numbers dropped to 64%. And when asked if they believe gender equity, in general, is a priority at their companies, it decreased further to only one-quarter. These results seemed to reflect one of the study’s most telling stats —that women hold only 14% of the CEO roles and less than 25% of the C-Suite roles.
Gender inequity presents an unrealized potential for a company’s growth. It limits a company’s innovative ideas to respond to market changes, restricts growth and profitability, risks customer loss, increases liability and, as we’ve all seen on the news, can damage your employer brand.
The Brandon Hall study, specifically, found a direct correlation between investment in diversity and inclusion programs and solid business improvements. The more investment you make in diversity, including women leaders, the better quality hires you get, and the greater innovation is realized.
Implementing Gender Diversity & Development into Your Pipeline
Many strategies exist for increasing diversity in recruiting. One example is training talent teams on unconscious bias. It was found that less than half of organizations conduct unconscious bias awareness training, but what a difference it can make! Those that do are 80% more likely to hire more women leaders and 54% more likely to make good efforts to advance women employees in leadership roles. Other simple strategies include having a diverse recruiting staff and a geographically diverse candidate pool. These are low-hanging fruit, yet results show anywhere between 65-75% of organizations aren’t implementing them.
So how can we make real changes in talent recruitment and development? You must create a targeted effort to recruit and retain women leaders, and these steps can help you get started:
1) Assess Your Organization’s Reality: Step back and assess the state of gender diversity and the level of awareness in your organization, so you can develop specific goals to your unique situation. Choosing a self-guided assessment like the EVOLVE Maturity & Efficiency Framework allows your teams to start to examine areas of improvement for targeted recruiting and start to prioritize the right tools and strategies for your organization’s goals.
2) Gain Executive Buy-In: One of the most important pieces to creating change is having enthusiastic and active buy-in from high-level executives who can promote diversity from the top-down and convey company-wide messaging. This requires real commitment from the entire leadership team, which can then trickle down to staff through intentional planning and company-wide action.
The study results show that only about half of all women and men respondents take action to address noticeable barriers to women (60%/49%), encourage colleagues to get involved when they see women treated unfairly (57%/45%), and have a clear understanding of how to help women progress in their organization (51%/47%). This gap in action and awareness can be closed with education and outreach from leadership, consistent communication, and accountability.
3) Build an Authentic and Proactive Culture: Focus on creating a sincere and relevant employer brand with a supportive employee culture toward diversity. Develop active internal mobility programs and special resources and networks to help grow the skills and experiences of woman leaders.
4) Encourage Allies: Encourage both men and women to be champions for gender equity. It’s important for women to find female role models, but “male allyship” is also important and can bring about dramatic progress. The Brandon Hall study shows that 70% of women and 63% of male respondents recognize the importance of male allyship.
Of course, women can be their own best allies and advocates. This can include supporting and participating in corporate initiatives such as a women’s network, having a mentor or being a mentor to future women leaders, and having core women as a part of corporate leadership programs.
Start Recruiting Women in Leadership Today
Want more insights on the Women in Leadership study, including what makes the biggest impact on women being promoted into leadership roles and how to prioritize key audiences? Listen to the webinar here.
If you have questions about how your organization can attract and hire the highest quality candidates for leadership roles, we’re here to help.