06/18/2013 10:11 am ET

Your Company Doesn't Need A Women's Network


Another women's conference finds another predominantly female group of HR Directors seeking to improve the gender balance in their firms. In reality, women are working far too hard at an issue actually beyond their power to solve. Corporate leaders must recognize that additional women-dominated efforts are not the way to get companies to take the gender issue seriously. Rather, the solution requires action by those in leadership positions, still frustratingly rare, as hundreds of women at the recent JUMP Conference in Paris acknowledged.

How much longer must we witness the following scenario repeat itself?

A group of men who decide (or are told by government) that they need more women in their teams turn to the few women in senior roles and task them with finding a solution. The women, delighted with this glimmer of interest in their fate, duly throw themselves (in their free time, on top of their day jobs) into launching usually unfunded corporate women's networks and draft a business case on the corporate advantages of gender balance. A senior woman is put in charge and sent to every external conference as a corporate representative. This results in a women's conference with lots of motivational speakers and a few male 'champions' to encourage the girls. Sound familiar?

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