The statistics are baffling--while women earn 60% of college degrees and now hold 52% of professional-level jobs, they are still in the minority when it comes to running Fortune 500 companies and holding executive positions in industries such as finance, law, medicine and technology.
It appears that while we have spent a great deal of time helping women become confident in their pursuit of success, we have failed to inspire workplaces to create environments where this success becomes attainable. "Workplaces need to adapt to the 'whole person', both women and men," states a post on the Harvard Summer Blog. "This way everyone can strike a better balance between working and spending time with family, friends, and their community." Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? But creating a work environment focused on gender equality isn't just a feel-good thing businesses should do for their employees. It's about growing your business.
Yes, growing your business.
This is the conversation that companies and organizations throughout the world are having, or should be having. After all, according to the Global Leadership Forecast, companies performing in the top 20% financially have nearly twice the amount of women in leadership roles as those in the bottom 20%. And, studies show companies that have significant gender inequities are less competitive, productive and innovative--all things that entrepreneurs like myself need in order to effectively grow my brand.
The fact is, the more diverse our workplaces--and especially the leadership in our workplaces--the better decisions we will be able to make and better connected we will be to our customers and our stakeholders. "I think when you have multiple perspectives from both men and women and strategic discussions, rather if that's at the board level or in a team meeting, you get a full 360 degree picture," states Elton Rivas, co-founder of One Spark. "And that's a good thing."
It starts with us--the small business owners, the startups, the entrepreneurs. If we truly want to empower women in an effort to improve the future of our industries and even the world, we need to look at our own businesses. Kelly Outsourcing & Consulting Group suggests auditing your talent programs and succession planning process, consistently measure your success and improve work-life balance practices. You can also encourage your employees to take the HeForShe Commitment, an initiative from UN Women that "brings together one half of humanity in support of the other half of humanity."
It's time we made gender equality more than just a human resource issue. As Warren Buffet famously wrote in a column for Fortune, "We've seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you'll join me as an unbridled optimist about America's future."
This blogger graduated from Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.