We know that more diversity yields better innovation. What actionable steps can managers take to diversify their organizations?
I think gender inclusion is most effective when driven by C-levels (whether men or women). It becomes a much more powerful message and C-levels have the power to influence managers which in turn will create gender neutral teams.
Other actions should happen as well such as:
- Linking company values with company KPIs — placing gender neutrality in the managers KPIs, it could be setting goals for them to achieve 40% female or better there should not be more than 60% of one gender in a team (…!)
- Ensure each team is conducting ‘fair’ interviews by having a gender neutral panel and clear interview selection criteria.
- Promote mentoring — it could be internal or external resources / partner with other organizations etc.
- Promote training and leadership development- demonstrate that the company is investing in female employees with potential.
- Team up with groups/ experts on diversity in the industry.
- Empower allies.
- Speak-up from the top — The C-level should be speaking about the importance of gender neutral teams and taking action.
What steps can a senior female manager take to encourage growth and success amongst female employees?
I do not believe that the right strategy is to use the most senior woman of the organisation to speak about gender neutrality. The ‘onlys’ may not be the right persuaders to speak to the ‘majority’. So as a senior female manager, I would encourage you to influence the C-levels to speak about the importance of gender neutrality and to take measurable actions.
I am not saying don’t speak about it given the opportunity, you should, but it would be more influential coming from the top management, whether the top management is a woman or a man. They have the decisional power to make real impactful changes within the organisation (e.g. setting up KPIs and rewarding financially, imposing gender neutral panel for interviews, etc.).
To complement this, women in more senior roles (doesn’t have to be) can form a network of women and men in the company and industry to support the idea. There is power in numbers and in creating a network.