The last building block of the case for engaging and retaining women is one I’ve talked about before. It is that there is a huge bang for your buck in taking steps to engage women. First, women constitute a larger portion of most workplaces than any other group other than white males. If you want to start by increasing engagement (and therefore improving business results), it makes sense to start with a big group. Second, there is significant overlap in the needs and values of women and another huge group within the workforce—members of Generation X and Millennials. They share a need for flexibility, a need for connection and community and a preference for less hierarchical work structures. See my three-part series beginning with http://difference-works.com/bang-for-your-buck-steps-to-increase-engagement-and-retention-of-women-work-for-lots-of-the-workforce-%e2%80%93-part-1-flexibility/. Creating an environment that works for women raises overall engagement and lowers overall turnover, including of male Baby Boomers!
Boiling down the five elements of the business case that I have examined in this series, there are two ways in which engaging and retaining women is good for business.
- First, there are huge costs that can be avoided.
- Second there are significant upsides that can be leveraged to enhance business results.
Businesses that engage women avoid the tangible and intangible costs of turnover covered in Part 3 of this series. Given the proportion that women represent in the pipeline and educated pipeline (Part 2), not taking steps to engage and retain women just doesn’t make business sense. Even more important, by engaging women, businesses can tap the upsides:
- Gender diversity is linked with significantly stronger business results (Part 1);
- Retaining women supports tapping the vast “women’s market” (Part 4);
- Creating a workplace with a reputation for engaging women enables businesses to successfully recruit from a pipeline that is over 50% women (Part 2); and
- Actions that increase engagement and retention of women raise engagement and retention overall (this post).
Many leaders and managers “get” the importance of retaining women and want to. They just don’t know how. Now it’s time to talk about solutions. My business is about helping managers understand how to do that. I’ve acknowledged the “pull factor” of balancing work and family. My focus is on the more elusive “push factor,” the absence of a workplace culture where women feel they can succeed—which is a culture in which they feel valued, included and heard. I’m working on a book on this topic and will use my blog to help leaders and managers created engaged, gender-diverse workplaces.
I hope you’ll stay tuned and chime in!