The Latest from the ABM Experts
September 30, 2019
4 Reasons Why Corporate America Needs to Get Serious About Gender Equality
Written by Sangram Vajre
In the 1960s, it wasn’t that hard to imagine flying cars by 2019.
The world would have solved all its issues by then so we can all peacefully zoom around in our personal saucers.
Turns out, that while we may be a little closer to flying cars, we’re not much closer to solving the world’s problems. Namely, gender equality.
What would our 1960s selves think?
Jeffery Halter, President of YWomen and author of Why Women, recently spoke at Leadercast’s Evolve session about gender equality in the workplace. We here at Terminus are excited to share this special episode with you.
Here’s what we’re unpacking today:
- Driving change in workplace gender equality
- How respecting women makes companies more money
- What you can do today to support gender equality
1. Women’s voices are gathering
Jeffery: In the last two or three years we saw a million women march in Washington, D.C. demanding equity.
What you might not know is there are states that have passed legislation saying, “You can’t ask the prior salary history of a woman.” This is working to resolve the pay gap.
California recently passed a law saying by 2022, you have to have at least three women on your board of directors if you’re a publicly-traded company. The fine is only $600,000, which sounds like a lot of money to us as people, but to companies, this is a rounding error.
Where you’re going to be judged, though, is on social media when you show up on the list as the company that doesn’t have any women directors.
Plus, women’s voices are gathering.
About six months ago, women walked out at Google, one of the largest companies – if not the largest company – in the world, demanding pay equity, pay transparency, and a seat on the board of directors.
Then, we look at the last election cycle and see that we have a record number of women in political office today. We are living in exponential times.
Women’s voices are gathering. Standing next to them are supportive men who are wanting to help drive change.
2. Leveraging women makes companies more money
Jeffery: Leveraging women, leveraging diversity, makes more money for companies.
This is from a McKinsey report. What it says is based on two measurements of financial performance: profitability and value creation.
Companies that have more women in the top quartile of gender representation are 21% more likely to outperform on profitability and 27% more likely to outperform on superior value creation.
It just makes business sense.
Companies in the bottom quartile for gender and ethnic diversity were 29% less likely to achieve above-average profitability.
Let me give you one more tipping-point fact. BlackRock has recently said on behalf of its clients that if you don’t demonstrate transparency on your board of directors, they’re going to question whether they should invest in you or not.
The financial community is finally starting to hold itself accountable for board representation.
3. Women have ample buying power
Jeffery: Women drive the U.S. economy.
Women buy 83% of everything sold in B2C. Groceries, houses. Men, do you think you had any say in that house you’re living in? No. If she’s not happy you’re not buying that house.
This influencing ability goes far beyond their purchasing power.
Women buy or influence 70% of car purchases. Yet, in 120 years, Detroit has never figured out what to do with a woman’s purse. Where do you put it? This is a billion-dollar opportunity some carmaker will figure out.
Healthcare and DIY home improvement projects are all driven by women. In fact, women buy more men’s underwear than men do. Think about that for a minute.
Purchasing agents. This is the B2B part. 40% of purchasing agents today are women.
This could be defense or technology. There are more and more women sitting at the buying desk.
Men and women approach sales very differently. Men approach it in a very transactional manner. Women approach in a very relational manner.
Relations build money and margin. That’s the revenue piece. You have to figure out what that is for your company.
4. More women are entering the workforce
Jeffery: 85% of new entries into the workforce are women, people of color, and millennials. This shift is going to happen very, very rapidly.
What’s going to happen when the last boomers leave? There’s going to be 52 million jobs to be filled but there are only 29 million people in the pipeline.
23 million jobs will need to be filled.
If you don’t treat your employees the way they want to be treated, they’re going to say, “See you.”
83% of business leaders believe in diversity, but only 17% hold people accountable. If it’s not important to my boss or my paycheck why should I care?
What you can do
Jeffery: Listen, learn, lead, and have the will.
It doesn’t cost a dime. Ask a simple question: Are you having a different experience than I am?
She’s probably not going to say anything. She’s going to want to pull the good company line, “No, there are no issues.”
Ask again. What don’t I understand?
Then, she might start to open up. Don’t interrupt her. Just shut up and listen.
Then, ask it a third time. In that those 10 minutes, you’re going to hear root cause issues you never knew existed.