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Question: How can organizations improve gender diversity in the workplace?
Answer: Numerous research studies have shown that companies with higher levels of employee diversity foster a more inclusive workforce and experience tangible business results than other companies. These results include increased revenue and better employee retention rates. Yet while companies strive to recruit talented individuals from different ethnic and age groups, they often overlook one key area of diversity: gender.
This is unfortunate. The research paper, “Does Diversity Pay? Race, Gender, and the Business Case for Diversity,” published in the American Sociological Review in April 2009, reported that companies with high levels of gender diversity averaged nearly $600 million more in revenue than companies with low gender diversity.
There is a gap between the full-time employment rates of women and men around the world. According to information released by Gallup in June 2011, studies of employment rates in more than 130 countries revealed that 33 percent of the worldwide population of adult males is employed full time for an employer vs. 18 percent of women—a 15-percentage-point gap. In the U.S. and Canada, a larger percentage of each group is employed—52 percent of men and 37 percent of women—but the same gap exists.
Increasing gender diversity should be seen as a method for bringing out the best in everyone, with the goal of improving the business performance of the company. Yet despite the clear business benefits of gender diversity, many companies lack a strategy for increasing the number of women throughout the organization. Fortunately, there are some proven steps that organizations can use to get started.
Four Steps to Increase Gender Diversity
By implementing these tips, companies will be positioned better to create a strategy for closing the gender gap, allowing them to benefit from the skills of a wide range of people with diverse backgrounds. With all of the proven advantages of having a gender-balanced workforce, companies that hire for diversity will have a competitive advantage. They will be more likely to see increased revenue and a stronger customer base as well as more likely to retain their top talent, regardless of gender.
Steve Lopez is director of consulting services for ManpowerGroup Solutions and has more than 20 years of experience developing leaders, teams and organizations across multiple countries and cultures.
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