There is something fundamentally wrong in the way ’Gender Diversity’ is being defined and driven.
The other day, I interviewed a young, driven HR manager from a fairly well known organisation. In our discussion on diversity, she proudly showcased change in ratios of women recruited from campuses. These were an outcome of a pure ‘number focus’ … She may well have been from the sales team with the month end being the campus day zero! So organisations are focusing on recruiting more women. Across the globe, there are solutions like clean slate, directions like minimum x% women must be interviewed and laws driving a number in the board.
Yet, the problem lies beyond numbers. Many popular studies suggest that the percentage of women rising to senior management in most organisations decline drastically. A study by World Economic Forum claims that 29% of working women in Asia drop out of work between junior and mid-level positions.
Then, why the focus on the numbers recruited? All it does is, gets organisations into a vicious circle of targeted hiring to fill the gaps created by and to plan for attrition. And attrition comes at a cost- which is not just financial. The repercussions are lasting.
Hence, a number driven recruitment focused approach is, in my opinion is incomplete. A systematic approach is needed to achieve
The starting point is that organisations need to recognize lifestages. There will be marriage, kids, aging parents, the question is how does an organisation help women (and men) navigate it? There are a lot of simple low cost solutions to solving these issues.
The focus then needs to be towards creating an ecosystem that understands and supports diversity. It is a way of working that is inclusive and supports the needs of a diverse set of employees. The ecosystem transcends across the vision, to the policies and processes, to leadership and to the infrastructure. And to build a sustainable ecosystem, It is critical to understand the root cause for the imbalance and the solutioning becomes simpler with greater and sustainable impact.
Doing this has far better and sustainable impact than simply hiring women just to lose them a little while later.
The author is the Founder and Managing Partner of Marching Sheep
By Sonica Aron