Gender Balanced Business is Good for Economy: International Women’s Day

Gender Balanced Business is Good for Economy: International Women’s Day

March 8, 2019
With the theme #BalanceforBetter, the global awareness campaign aims to increase women's contributions as a way to build stronger global economies.

Started in 1911, International Women’s Day has grown and is currently supported by over a million people. The theme in 2019 is “Let’s build a gender-balanced world." The day is meant to bring awareness to the role that women play in all aspects of life and to increase their involvement.

The organizers of the event point out that gender balance is applicable across the board and is not a “women’s issue, it’s a business issue.”

The effect of gender balance on business performance has been studied over the years. Research from Catalyst showed that companies with a higher percentage of women in executive positions have a 34% higher total return to shareholders than those that do not.

Another Catalyst study found that companies with the most women directors outperform those with the least on return on invested capital by 26%.

While many companies are championing these goals, as evidenced by the best practices shown on the group's website, there is still much progress to be made. 

A study released on March 6 from Korn Ferry and the Conference Board found that  62% of respondents believe the representation of women in leadership positions has improved during the last five years. However, 66% believe that there still is an inadequate representation of women in leadership positions in their organization today.

According to the survey, gender inequity is significantly higher at top levels within organizations. While nearly half of individual contributors are women, that percentage dwindles to little more than a fifth at the senior vice president and c-suite levels.

The study found a high level of dissatisfaction with female representation in leadership roles, with 66% of respondents saying the number of women at the vice president level at their own organization was inadequate, and 65% agreeing that there was not enough female representation in the c-suite.

 “HR and business executives need to take a step back to better understand and address the systemic reasons behind the gender imbalance,” said Rebecca L. Ray,, executive vice president of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “Reasons include pay inequity, hiring manager bias and accountability, a lack of sponsors and champions, as well as the lack of programmatic support for the integration of work and life.”

The report offers advice on steps businesses can take to help women advance at all levels of the organization, including:

-- Challenging women early in their careers

-- Redesigning talent management systems to mitigate bias and disrupt historical practices

--Creating an intentionally inclusive climate

-- Providing differentiated development opportunities and experiences

--Developing a sponsorship program aimed at women advancement opportunities

-- Offering stretch assignments and personalized leadership experiences

About the Author

Adrienne Selko | Senior Editor

Focus: Workforce, Talent 

Follow Me on Twitter: @ASelkoIW

Bio: Adrienne Selko has written about many topics over the 17 years she has been with the publication and currently focuses on workforce development strategies. Previously Adrienne was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck? which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics and EHS Today

Editorial mission statement: Manufacturing is the enviable position of creating products, processes and policies that solve the world’s problems. When the industry stepped up to manufacture what was necessary to combat the pandemic, it revealed its true nature. My goal is to showcase the sector’s ability to address a broad range of workforce issues including technology, training, diversity & inclusion, with a goal of enticing future generations to join this amazing sector.

Why I find manufacturing interesting: On my first day working for a company that made medical equipment such as MRIs, I toured the plant floor. On every wall was a photo of a person, mostly children. I asked my supervisor why this was the case and he said that the work we do at this company has saved these people’s lives. “We never forget how important our work is and everyone’s contribution to that.” From that moment on I was hooked on manufacturing.

I have talked with many people in this field who have transformed their own career development to assist others. For example, companies are hiring those with disabilities, those previously incarcerated and other talent pools that have been underutilized. I have talked with leaders who have brought out the best in their workforce, as well as employees doing their best work while doing good for the world. 

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