I was asked to speak on this topic with an esteemed panel of industry leaders at the Sixth Annual California Diversity & Leadership Conference. Some of the topics discussed were how to create an initial diversity strategy and what are some best practices and potholes to avoid. The question I was tasked with was…
How can organizations benefit from successful diversity and inclusion initiatives?
A successful diversity and inclusion initiative from a corporate perspective comes down to the company’s bottom line in my opinion. If we can show that more diversity in leadership positions will increase revenue and profits, then who wouldn’t implement appropriate initiatives? For the last 10 years, the UC Davis Graduate School of Management has tracked the top 400 companies in California based on market capitalization. What their research has shown year after year is that companies with the greatest gender diversity see 3x more revenue and 50% higher profits on average.
Do we need any other reason other than this? And as it stands right now, the percentage of women directors within these companies is only 12.4%(I would like to note that of that percentage, only 9.4% are Asian, African-American, Hispanic or Latino). There is still so much work that needs to be done here.
At our current pace, it will be 2040 before we even get close to having parity for women directors.
We have been having this conversation for a very long time, but it is now time to actually take the steps needed to make an impact. That is really the sole reason Women Evolution was created.
The question then becomes, how do we get more women in leadership positions as quickly as possible?
The solution is mentorship. The problem is that there is not enough women in leadership positions to mentor all the women who need it. Until we can start 3D printing female mentors, we need another solution. What we have helped implement at companies of all sizes is a peer-to-peer mentoring model instead or in addition to an existing mentoring program. This is small groups of 3-4 women who commit to meeting on a monthly basis to connect over coffee, lunch or even happy hour for a minimum of 6 months. By keeping the groups small and with the same women for at least 6 months, builds the levels of trust needed to feel safe and to really talk about the challenges they are facing. Not feeling like you are alone in this journey is half the battle.
Another key and essential element to a successful peer-to-peer mentoring program is that each month is focused around a different leadership development skill. These groups need to be focused and with an end goal of career development.
This will give your women the tools they need to guide themselves and to take control of their own career. Wouldn’t that be nice? To have thriving, independent, confident and engaged women working in your company. Give your women mentorship.
This is just one of many innovative and scalable solutions we offer organizations who are truly ready to create change. Are you?