Carpe The Chaos: Creating A Culture of Inclusion In Leadership

Recruting and retaining more women in leadership is good for the bottom line.

Recruting and retaining more women in leadership is good for the bottom line.

The message couldn’t be more clear from the top of government and throughout the offices and halls of nearly every industry: Gender equity in leadership is imperative to move our culture, nation and the world forward.

Following the White House Summit last week on diversity and inclusion, Barbara Whye writes: “Stereotypes that we all may in many cases unknowingly have, can create implicit biases.  However, by implementing diversity strategies with ’teeth,’ businesses can begin to deconstruct these barriers. Studies have shown that implementing job diversity doesn’t ‘take away,’ rather, organizations who diversify their workforce can increase profit, innovation, and revenue.”

Gender equity in leadership is imperative to move our world forward #leadership

Whye continues, “Establishing a data-driven plan of action for diversity in hiring is an important step towards an equitable future. Intel’s Global Diversity and Inclusion initiative is an excellent example of how analytics can measure success. To ensure progress and innovation in the future, employees must represent that future. The Annual Diversity in Technology report offers insight into progress and shifting demographics, with statistics on gender and ethnicity that show significant gains in employee diversity.”

Concerns, were implied, however, about the reverence for inclusion with the upcoming shift in leadership at the White House starting in January.

“Given the nature of this campaign on this issue of diversity and inclusion, I’m sure that there is more than the usual amount of concern and questions,” said Shaun Donovan, Office of Management and Budget director, according to the Washington Post.

Also hailing a need for inclusion, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management posts on its website: “When we draw on the wisdom of a workforce that reflects the population we serve, we are better able to understand and meet the needs of our customers-the American people. But merely hiring a diverse workforce is not enough. We must make our workplaces more inclusive as well.”

Gender parity in leadership has to be a major focus beyond government and in all sectors of industry and all forms of workplaces, not just a political talking point.

Gender parity in leadership must be a goal beyond government, not just a talking point #equality

“To gain the maximum benefit from our increasingly diverse workforce, we must make every employee feel welcome and motivated to work their hardest and rise through the ranks. When we tap this knowledge, when employees are trained in team building, decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution, we will not only uphold the principles of our nation, we will get better results,” according to the OPM site.

But what are the actionable steps to take and how does an organization ensure the inclusion of women in leadership and the creation of an inclusive, diverse workplace culture?

To that end, in a Pearson-sponsored free webinar December 6, from 1-2 p.m. ET, Gloria Feldt, co‑founder and president of Take The Lead, discusses her Leadership Power Tool framework to retain and advance women in leadership. One of her key power tools, Carpe The Chaos, calls on embracing the difficulties of changing a culture. The webinar is exceptionally critical for personnel and human resources department managers and all leaders involved in the recruiting, hiring and retaining of talent.

The impetus to be inclusive in hiring and retention is crucial because benefits to an organization go beyond the necessities of fairness and equity to ultimately improve the bottom line.

“There are few greater compliments for a company than being perceived as innovative – fresh thinking and doing things differently to stand out from the crowd,” William Polk writes in World Economic Forum. “While much of this innovation comes down to a company’s products and services to keep it at the forefront of the market in which it operates, it’s also about the company’s culture. And creating the right workplace conditions is paramount.”

According to Polk, “The U.S. Workplace Survey 2016, comprised of 4,000 employees in 11 industries, found that companies with high scores for workplace functionality and effectiveness also have better innovation rankings.”

Worldwide, the need for gender equity at work is a priority. The UN’s Empower Women held a Gender Equality in the Workplace webinar recently. “The topic of gender equality in the workplace is so often discussed and yet disregarded by so many as a trivial issue,” writes Ilinca Vasiliu, adviser at Citizens Advice and an Empower Women’s 2015-2016 Global Champion for Women’s Economic Empowerment.

“In this day and age, gender equality in the workplace should continue to be one of our aims as a society. For this reason, I believe it is crucial that we continue to encourage people to advocate for gender equality,” Vasiliu writes.

An organizational culture that respects all employees, and particularly holds gender parity as a goal in leadership, is an organization that will thrive, experts say. Without it, the workplace culture suffers.

Organizational cultures that respects all employees are ones that will thrive #genderparity

“Few things are as costly and disruptive as managers who kill morale. Demotivated employees underperform and then walk out the door at the first opportunity,” writes Travis Bradberry, president of TalentSmart, in World Economic Forum. “The scariest thing is how prevalent this lack of motivation is. Gallup research shows that 70 percent of employees consider themselves to be disengaged at work,” he writes.

“Organizations know how important it is to have motivated, engaged employees, but most fail to hold managers accountable for making it happen. When they don’t, the bottom line suffers,” according to Bradberry.

“Research from the University of California found that motivated employees were 31 percent more productive, had 37 percent higher sales, and were three times more creative than demotivated employees. They were also 87 percent less likely to quit, according to a Corporate Leadership Council study on over 50,000 people,” Bradberry writes.

One of the biggest problems contributing to a lackluster and unmotivated team of employees is not hiring or promoting the right people, Bradberry writes.

“Good, hard-working employees want to work with like-minded professionals. When managers don’t do the hard work of hiring good people, it’s a major demotivator for those stuck working alongside them. Promoting the wrong people is even worse. When you work your tail off only to get passed over for a promotion that’s given to someone who glad-handed their way to the top­­­­­­­, it’s a massive insult. No wonder it makes good people leave.”

A push for more women on corporate boards is also in the works and many corporations are aiming to recruit, invite and promote women board members.

“The great majority of companies are seeking to improve diversity of their boards, including recruiting more female directors,” says Kate Kohler, principal at Korn Ferry where she is a Financial Services specialist and leads the firm’s relationship with the World Bank Group, in Forbes.

Kohler, who founded and co-leads the firm’s Impact Investing Practice, tells Christopher Skroupa, founder and CEO of Skytop Strategiesin Forbes, “This desire is founded on far more than having a token woman on the board. Organizations need strong, independent board members who bring value, thanks to their diversity of experiences, perspectives, and thinking. The smartest leaders are those who recognize that not only is diversity a good idea, but there is a strong business case for it. Organizations today are looking for really exceptional candidates who bring breadth and depth of experience.”

Efforts to seek, retain and develop talent that enriches the workplace culture, enhances corporate board leadership and moves to gender equity is the centerpiece of much talk and training and media.

But unfortunately, it isn’t the reality for many startup companies, particularly in tech.

“Eighty-four percent of technology founders say they have no formal plans or policies to help foster diversity and inclusion at their startups. At the same time, 54 percent of respondents say they do have some strategy, but nothing formal. And nearly one out of three founders says their startup has not even discussed the topics of diversity and inclusion in the past year. The results come from a wide-ranging annual survey of 700-plus tech founders,” according to PC Proactive.

“As for the cause of the diversity issues in the technology industry, male and female founders don’t agree. Half of men blamed it on the so-called “pipeline” problem — that is, not enough women and minorities are going into tech in the first place. Only a quarter of women surveyed agreed,” according to PC Proactive. “Instead, more than half of the women surveyed blamed the issue on either unconscious bias in hiring and promotions or on a lack of role models. Just 16 percent of men believe the same.”

Yet, the great news is one of the largest global tech leaders is bullish on diversity and inclusion, and is putting its bonuses where its goals are.

“The solution? The software giant plans to link diversity stats to corporate bonuses. Microsoft revealed recently that while diversity in its workforce is increasing, its female representation slipped last year — for the second year in a row,” writes Jan Lee in Triple Pundit.

“The company’s targets include ensuring the workplace is not only diverse in talent, but also inclusive in nature, according to Gwen Houston, Microsoft’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, Lee writes. “ Ongoing internal diversity training programs and new strategies to broaden the net for diverse talent will complement the mandatory requirements for senior management.”

About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon