Leaders, it’s time to step up, take the lead and become a workplace gender diversity ambassador.
With the introduction of gender pay gap reporting, there has never been a brighter spotlight shone on the need to get more women into senior positions and close the gender gap in the UK.
Often seen as a women’s problem, delegated to a distant Diversity & Inclusion team to resolve or put to the bottom of a long list of business priorities … these responses will not have an impact on your gap.
Leading organisations take a different approach seeing it as a key business enabler and being led from the top by the CEO, holding line managers accountable for improving their gender diversity.
Closing the gender gap is going to take a long time to achieve for the majority of UK organisations. And whilst we wait for this to happen, businesses are missing out on the substantial benefits of having gender-diverse teams throughout their organisation.
However, small actions will make a change and can create momentum and a ripple effect.
One important route to affect change is for more leaders, men and women, to step up as gender diversity ambassadors. For some, this will involve letting go of the fear of more women leaders and to embrace and accept the need to change.
In doing so, you will reap the benefits of improved diversity, such as:
- having a wider talent pool to choose from when hiring and developing future leaders
- diversity of thought and broader perspectives to enrich your decision-making
- recognising the value of both mothers and fathers being involved in parenting, to prevent so many women from exiting their careers around the time of parenthood and fathers feeling like disenfranchised weekend-only parents
- contributing to financial wins for the wider economy – afterall when women work, the economy benefits.
So here’s our top 10 recommendations on becoming a workplace gender diversity ambassador:
1. Support shared parental leave
Encourage male colleagues to take shared parental leave – this will break down the stigma of careers being impacted by parental leave and create a fair playing field.
2. Be a flexible working role model
Demonstrate flexible working and talk about it with your team – show that you embrace flexible working, that it can lead to a more effective work life and personal life as part of a movement to make flexible working more gender neutral – not just something that mums do! This could be as simple as stopping work early one evening per week to actively engage in your own family responsibilities or a hobby.
3. Flexible working arrangements for your team
Recruit more senior people into part-time roles with flexible working arrangements. Advertise all vacancies with the strapline “Happy to talk Flexible Working”.
4. Show your understanding and empathy
Demonstrate your understanding and empathy with the complexities of women’s progression in the workplace – put yourself into the shoes of your female colleagues, take part in reverse mentoring or attend one of our Developing Women Leaders workshops.
5. Be a mentor
Mentor and sponsor junior female talent, as well as male talent – don’t make judgements about their longer term career ambitions from their age or stage of life, but offer inspiration and reassurance that they can achieve more senior roles.
6. Be an ambassador outside the workplace
Encourage your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, etc as well as the boys in your family to follow their career dreams – challenge any jobs for girls/jobs for boys influences. Talk at their schools, take an interest in their ambitions and help and support them along their journey.
7. Boldly challenge others
Make bold challenges and lead supportive discussions with colleagues who fear greater gender diversity in your workplace. Call out heavily biased decisions and behaviour that aren’t fair and respectful to both genders. Encourage colleagues to step up and also become gender diversity ambassadors.
8. Walk the talk
Ensure your policies and operating practices don’t exclude parts of your team – think carefully about who is available for social events in the evenings and early morning meetings. Demonstrate your commitment to gender diversity not only in voice but most importantly through your actions.
9. Review your own team’s gender gap
Understand the make-up of your own team. What kind of gender split do you have by role and by level? Aim to have at least 33% : 66% split in each category so that all team members feel a level of inclusion. If you don’t have this level of gender balance, make an action plan to address when vacancies and development opportunities arise.
10. Reduce your unconscious bias in decision-making
Ensure you familiarise yourself with unconscious bias and how it impacts on the people decisions that are made in the workplace. Take steps to understand and minimise your own bias.
“Hiring and promoting talented women is the right thing to do for society – and its an economic imperative”
Carlos Ghosn, Chair, Renault-Nissan Alliance.
Take this invitation to step up to become a gender diversity ambassador. If you are already involved in organisational initiatives to close the gender gap, review the recommendations and see what else you can do and wear your Ambassador status with pride.
Contact Sally Dhillon to discuss how the CM Talent team can help you develop more gender-diversity ambassadors in your organisation.
Catch up with the latest news and views on progress towards achieving workplace gender-diversity via our fortnightly CM Talent Talk.