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Women in the boardroom makes good business sense

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13 January 2014

Globally senior leaders have been debating the issue of women in boardrooms for some time now. Multiple companies have seriously advanced with key performance indicators modified, to ensure women are in the mix for future promotions. But others remain on the fence about whether this is even a real issue.

Beyond the important truths such as fairness and equality, we have to acknowledge the facts. The numbers don’t lie. Men in leadership roles far exceed those taken by women. We can jump on the bandwagon of why this isn’t right or we can explore where the problems lay and challenge what we could do differently. Like most women who want to “get on with it” I am taking the latter path…

Earlier this year I was involved in a thought provoking conversation that revolutionized how I viewed this situation. 

It’s all about the pipeline.

If you’re in a sales role then you will understand this philosophy. Whilst striving for quality is important, it is essentially a numbers game. The more you feed your pipeline the greater the chance for a conversion.

So why not adopt this analogy with your talent pool? Who is in it and what is the percentage of women? The evidence points out that annual shrinkage to a companies pipeline is through women leaving the business to take some form of leave. Traditionally this has been maternity leave, yet study leave and taking leave to care for an elderly are fast making a comeback. Then there is a category of women who are not being given the same development opportunities as their male counterparts.  As a result they make a choice to resign, thus permanently ceasing their relationship with their employer. 

In both cases, companies are responsible for losing the connection to their female talent.

This brings me back to the pipeline. CEOs must begin taking a microscopic view at the entrant and mid level of talent. These represent their future leaders, and with early engagement into developing their skillset a greater chance of return and retention can be achieved.

However we can’t ignore the other realities, we also need to actively hunt and acquire new female talent to bring into the pipeline.

Easier said than done right? Correct. So how can companies embrace this concept?

It’s simple. Build a culture that embraces diverse talent, supports new ideas and is fostered through strong leadership.

Advancing women up the ladder is not going to be an easy feat. Building a female presence requires an investment of time and money. So for those still on the fence, join the commercial side. If you’re still not convinced and think this is a topic blown out of proportion by a bunch of loud feminists, well then ignore the gender element.

According to Warren Buffett (only the worlds second richest man) with women joining men at boardroom level, profits increase. So forget us and think about the money. Surely that makes good business sense?

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