My last two blogs have focused on gender diversity and the need to design the right approach for your company. My message has been to look at so-called best practices, but don’t just copy them. The key to results is within your company rather than by emulating the failed approaches of others.
First, I focused on teaching women to take risks early in career and putting them in more senior roles quickly http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/27/developing-women-is-risky-business/. Then I focused on use of assessments to understand the characteristics that create staying power in women so these traits can be sought or taught http://stangercarlson.com/2013/08/28/women-in-waiting/.
A new HBR blog piece, Design Your Top Jobs to Appeal to the Goals of Top Talent , has another great idea: designing roles to people. This will make it easier to place women in senior roles early in career and it will make it harder for women to leave these roles. The HBR blog piece also discusses the challenges women face when asked to live abroad at times when their spouses cannot easily follow them. It talks about examples where multiple companies with global operations have set up job networks to help these spouses find positions overseas. This is only the beginning of what can be envisioned for addressing this issue. In time, powerful social overseas employment referral networks can be formed by industry. It would be great if today’s businesses would work with companies such as LinkedIn to proactively create these networks.
The next issue that comes to mind with overseas assignments is timing. These opportunities should be moved to early in career before children are in their high school years when moving abroad can be difficult.
My colleague Carolyn Carlson has been blogging about Flexibility: Agility, Resilience and Adaptability. All these competencies need to be leveraged in designing effective gender diversity programs. It is time for senior leadership supported by HR to flex to the challenge of gender diversity and stop asking women to do most of the flexing when it really counts!