Most leading corporations today have invested significant time and money into creating robust diversity initiatives. Having understood the relevancy of acquiring, training and retaining diverse talent, companies today have begun restructuring their culture and internal processes, especially in the case of women employees. As a diverse workforce brings in a strategic advantage to organizations by creating a fruitful mixture of different perspectives, the inclusion of women within the workforce has become an imperative for businesses – especially at the leadership levels.
Having a diverse viewpoint helps in taking a more nuanced business decision. The inclusion of women into the senior leadership becomes important for a company to make balanced decisions. As the business environment complicates further, the need to reach out and respect different views also rises. As organizations around the globe realize the importance of having women leaders within the company, most HR professionals face challenges in executing a comprehensive plan that enables women within the organization to access leadership opportunities. In order to address the key ‘question of ‘how’ to ensure women leadership within the company, People Matters in association with SAP held a roundtable on the same. Titled as ‘Women in Leadership - Taking the game three notches up’ the roundtable sought to address the issues of how to create and execute initiatives that allow women to actively take up leadership roles within the company.
The session began with the participants at the roundtable discussion highlighting their key concerns. Problems, ranging from overall issues like creating a mindset change, ensuring that women employees are retained throughout their employee life-cycle, to specifics like understanding the impact of reverse mentoring, among many, were the core challenges that companies have been facing.
Addressing such concerns, Maggie Chan Jones, Chief Marketing Officer, SAP stressed the need to link diversity initiatives to their intended business impact. By first understanding how business performance gets affected by employing a diverse workforce helps companies to create a favorable case for D&I initiatives within the company. Sharing an example from within SAP, she added how the company in order to provide quality products to their varied customer base, takes D&I initiatives, not as a 'good-to-have’ feature but rather something that falls under the ‘must have’ category.
Changing workforce dynamics
As the workforce demography shifts with the increasing inclusion of millennials in the workforce, the need for a company to be able to provide good leadership opportunities to their women employees becomes a strong influencing factor. Millennials look up to companies with cultures that are more inclusive and are able to create adequate growth opportunities for all its employees.
Moving beyond just numbers
For companies to ensure that the focus on developing women employees for leadership roles is not just a one-off event, it becomes necessary to imbibe the spirit of creating equal and accessible opportunities into the very culture of the company. Stressing its importance, Maggie added that an environment typically dominated by male employees is rarely able to push women employees to take up leadership opportunities, even if such opportunities already exist within the company. The aim is to provide such opportunities while also creating an environment that enables women employees to do so. And organizations have to start somewhere.
Creating clear-cut, well-defined goals help companies set the tone of their efforts to have a diverse workforce. But creating goals would not necessarily be enough to create the kind of mindset shifts that most companies require today. By executing various programs and supporting them by creating the right environment helps businesses actually become diverse.