By Gillian Jones-Williams, Consultant, Al Naboodah Group
As a female Managing Director and owner of my own business consultancy for the last 20 years, I am keen to support women’s development and champion the diversity and inclusion agenda.
I recently asked women to celebrate Women’s International Day by commenting on the value that they add to the workplace. Therefore this article will attempt to showcase some of these contributions.
But why the buzz on women’s development at the moment? To many, gender parity is about being fair – but for businesses, it is access to talent!
So, let’s start with a few fun facts about women you might not know!
- One of the world’s first computer programmers, a woman named Ada Lovelace is known for her work on Charles Babbage’s computer programs, wrote the first algorithm to be carried out by a machine.
- 18% of all start-ups have at least one female founder.
- A net new 34,000 jobs were added by women owned businesses between 2007 and 2015 (go us!).
- No matter which crowdfunding platforms they choose, female founders perform equal to or better than male counterparts when raising money on line.
- Women CEO’s outperform peers three to one in the S & P 500 Index.
But shockingly, 97% of CEO’s at FTSE 350 are men – only 11 CEOs at these organisations are women!
So why have women in leadership roles?
Apparently, women-run businesses generate 18% higher revenue per employee. It is also noted that diverse groups are more effective at solving problems and coming up with creative ideas than homogeneous groups. Neuro science has helped us to look accurately at the difference between men and women and apparently we bring very valuable perspectives and approaches to the ideation process meaning we can be more innovative in solving complex problems.
According to Gallup companies with more diversity on staff also have a 22 percent lower turnover rate. And that is without our major organisational, budgeting and purchasing skills!
Just to illustrate this, below are some comments that women sent to me on LinkedIn:
- “In a project management environment, stakeholder management is critical and often this is what we see as most important as women – men are often bogged down with the tasks and we need to put the client first – which is what I focus on”.
- “I find that when we are in a group problem solving it is the women who are more creative about coming up with new solutions – we tend to do less evaluating of what went wrong and more on what we can do to resolve it.”
- “I just landed a £1.5 million marketing deal with an all-female team – well-done ladies!”
- “I am a procurement manager and last month I saved our organisation 250k on IT infrastructure – I used my negotiating skills and persistence to get the best deal.”
- “My boss always come to me first when he has a serious problem to talk through – even though I am only his executive assistant, he says that I give the best advice and allow him to calmly think things through.”
- “When things get heated in our (predominantly all male) team meetings, I summarise where we have got to, suggest that everyone has a five-minute break, and ask them all calmly to state their issues and act as mediator. Sadly, it happens too often!”
- “I have just recently conducted a huge organisational restructure, supported the transformation project and worked with the new MD to set the vision and values and get the company back on track. I know traditionally there is a good proportion of women in HR but the contribution we make to organisational goals is as critical as contributions manufacturing and engineering departments make.”
- “I am an engineer and recently designed a product that won the Chairman’s award for innovation and solved an issue the business had been wrestling with for over 2 years.”
- “Every decision we make is an emotional reaction. So if we wish to influence and engage customers we need to connect to them emotionally. When women are given the freedom to be themselves in the workplace they are naturally more comfortable sharing emotions and create far deeper connections and increase sales.”
- “One particular lady I have just worked with on developing her storytelling skills just signed the biggest deal so far for her company worth 10.4 million.”
- “Being shamelessly ambitious will move forward and will improve more!”
It speaks for itself! This is not just a women’s’ crusade – for the growth and success of our organisations and country we need to make changes. But what?
Not doing anything is not an option! Organisations need to have a clear gender neutral definition of what great leadership looks like. Re-educating people is critical – we need to raise awareness and understanding. We also need to help managers recognise and appreciate female attributes and remember that we can’t change other people’s behaviours, women have to change their own to succeed.
Helping women to change beliefs increases confidence – we need to create the environment for them to do this.
Having a women’s development program, mentors for female talent and a supportive women’s network provides the opportunity for women to flourish and grow.
Gillian will be speaking about the women’s development programs she’s developed with Al Naboodah Group and will deliver a workshop on making your career work for you at the 19th global WIL economic forum, on October 25th 2017.