A recent HBR blog piece, How Women Drive Innovation and Growth, describes just how large a market women represent, controlling an estimated $20 trillion in global consumer spending — a growth market more than twice as big as India and China combined. It then goes on to make the case for diversity. After all, how can a heavily male dominated executive corps be making the right decisions for meaningful growth in this enormous market?
There are a lot of good reasons for diversity at all levels of the workforce http://stangercarlson.com/2013/07/24/unlocking-diversity/. Yet, companies continue to lag behind espoused goals in this area, particularly with respect to women. Just within the last few months, several major companies were complaining to us about not being able to achieve gender diversity despite extensive work/life and mentoring programs. What’s interesting and compelling is that companies could probably significantly reduce their spend on diversity programs and improve their results.
Just yesterday, I wrote a blog piece on the subject of acclimating high potential women to risk taking early in career as a way to promote diversity at the executive level http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/27/developing-women-is-risky-business/. I also suggested promoting women to senior positions far earlier in career than is common to make it much harder for them to leave what they have on the table by departing. Another effective approach would be to use personality tests to isolate those factors which will keep women motivated at different career levels and use an assessment program based on these factors to make selections beginning at entry level.
The main message is this: STOP adopting programs which we know are not effective in growing a diverse leadership team and design your own. Be creative. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Use personality testing and data analysis liberally. Most important, don’t give up. Diversity can be achieved. You just can’t get there with cookie-cutter approaches.