Article: Companies must strive for gender parity at the middle level


Companies must strive for gender parity at the middle level

Implementing strategies such as career development, fostering work-life balance, and adopting inclusive hiring practices can effectively facilitate the attainment of gender parity within middle management ranks.
Companies must strive for gender parity at the middle level

Female participation in the Indian workforce peaked at 27.8% in 2022, which is still far from parity. The wide gap exerts a toll on business, creating systemic competitive disadvantages for companies that cannot promote their talented women to leadership positions.  

Around half of college and university graduates are female. These graduates go on to take up entry-level jobs at rates equivalent to men, and yet as each cohort moves up the management ranks, the female contingent thins until their numbers become quite scarce at the top levels (22% at the C-Level globally). Not only is this extremely costly, as valuable human talent walks out the door, but also it is shown to harm business performance. 

Research conducted by Deloitte found that organisations with gender-diverse leadership teams are more innovative, collaborative, and profitable than their less diverse counterparts. Companies with more women in leadership roles also tend to outperform their peers in key financial metrics, including return on equity and return on investment.

Achieving gender parity at the middle management level is essential for organisations. Retaining women talent at the middle management level is critical for bridging this gap and achieving gender parity in leadership roles. Here are some possible ways to achieve this:

Offer career development opportunities: Provide women employees with access to professional development programmes, leadership training, and mentorship opportunities tailored to their needs. Investing in their growth and advancement demonstrates a commitment to their long-term career success and reinforces loyalty and engagement.

Promote work-life balance: Implement flexible work arrangements – remote work options, flexible hours, parental leave policies and so on to support women employees in balancing their professional and personal responsibilities. A supportive work-life balance is essential for retaining them and preventing burnout.

Create inclusive leadership practices: Cultivate a culture of inclusive leadership that values diverse perspectives, encourages open communication, and empowers women to contribute their ideas and insights. Leaders should actively seek input from women employees, recognise their achievements, and provide opportunities for advancement.

Address gender bias and discrimination: Take proactive steps to address gender bias and discrimination in the workplace through training programmes, awareness campaigns, and policy reviews. Create a zero-tolerance policy for harassment and discrimination and provide avenues for reporting and addressing complaints promptly and effectively.

Offer competitive compensation and benefits: Ensure that women employees receive equal pay for equal work and have access to competitive compensation and benefits packages. Conduct regular pay equity audits and address any disparities to ensure fairness and transparency in compensation practices.

Drive mentorship and sponsorship relationships: Pair women employees with mentors and sponsors who can provide guidance, support, and advocacy for their career advancement. Mentorship and sponsorship relationships help them to navigate organisational dynamics, build networks, and access opportunities for growth and development.

Provide opportunities for leadership roles: Create pathways for women executives to assume leadership roles and take on challenging assignments and projects that stretch their capabilities. Encourage them to pursue leadership positions and provide support and resources to help them succeed in these roles.

It is also critical to recruit the right for middle-level management. This requires a multifaceted approach that addresses biases in the recruitment process, delivers an inclusive organisational culture, and implements targeted initiatives to attract diverse talent. 

Start by setting specific and measurable targets for gender diversity at the middle management level. Not only should this be communicated internally but also get recruitment and hiring managers trained on unconscious bias, diversity, and inclusive hiring practices. 

Next, review job descriptions to ensure they are gender-neutral and free from biased language. Emphasize qualifications and skills required for the role rather than specific traits or characteristics that may inadvertently discourage certain candidates from applying.

Now, cast the net wider for diverse talent. This may include partnering with organisations that focus on promoting diversity in the workforce, attending career fairs targeting underrepresented groups, and leveraging professional networks to reach potential candidates. Ensure that recruitment processes are transparent and accessible to all candidates. Provide opportunities for diverse candidates to showcase their skills and experiences through structured interviews, skills assessments, and competency-based evaluations.

A study by McKinsey reveals that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 15% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. Need any more incentives to bring gender parity to the middle level?

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Topics: Diversity, #InternationalWomensDay

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