Gender diversity creates a productive workplace culture

Make sure your organisational strategy reflects the culture or EVPs for maximum impact 

It’s now widely acknowledged that having a more diverse workforce, particularly in regard to gender, boosts an organisation’s financial performanceResearch shows that gender diversity on a company’s management board has a significant impact on productivity growth and on returns to investors. 

But many Australian organisations aren’t taking advantage of the different perspectives, approaches and thinking that women can bring to a business. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agencyin Australia women make up: 

  • 13.7% of chair positions and 25.8% of directorships 
  • 17.1% of CEOs and 30.5% of key management personnel 

As recruiters, we see these statistics as evidence of the opportunity to attract female senior and C-suite talent to enhance your productivity. 

Don’t just tick the ‘gender’ box 

To get the best results, hiring with gender diversity in mind shouldn’t be just about ticking a box. Clients that achieve the best results take the time to identify and define their point of difference and work to align these to the personal value systems of their existing employees and the new employees they wish to attract. Recruiters that achieve the best results, collaboratively invest in research to identify a point of difference with the client to attract the best candidates for the job.   

Longterm business benefits however, can only be achieved when the workplace culture is also focused on inclusion, where executives and managers respect and encourage different viewpointscommunicate and educate about diversity, are aware of unconscious bias and proactively work to mitigate its impacts. 

As the world’s biggest e-commerce company, Alibaba Group totalled $248 billion in 2017, more than those of eBay and combined. Jack Ma, Chairman, attributed this to gender diversity. Over one-third of Alibaba Group’s founders were women, and a comparable percentage are in senior executive roles.  

Diverse people, diverse ideas 

L’Oréal is a proven leader in gender equality, known for having implemented strict staffing policies to ensure diversity at all levels. Worldwide, women account for 69 percent of their entire workforce and 54 percent of key positions. They have not only done this through process but also by encouraging: 

  • Active listening 
  • Acceptance of all ideas equally 
  • An open mindset 
  • Accountability and acceptance of mistakes 
  • Open flow of communication and feedback 

People only feel comfortable to speak up and present alternative views when they feel psychologically safe. Research shared by Harvard Business Review found that diverse leaders are more likely to create this type of safe environment where new ideas are welcomedIt requires leaders developing meaningful relationships, where people feel appreciated and respected as individuals – where leaders know who their team members are as people and what they value beyond the work environment. 

How to harness gender diversity to boost productivity 

To get the best productivity lift from gender diversity, Gallup recommends that business leaders: 

  • Identify business units that are less gender diverse 
  • Develop a hiring strategy to increase diversity while still recognising merit  
  • Partner with a 3rd party to enable a long-term market mapping strategy (especially if the sector is heavily dominated by one gender) 
  • Foster a culture that enables all employees to form trusting relationships 
  • Set inclusiveness goals with accountability for managers around diversity 

For organisations seeking to seize the productivity gains that come with gender diversity at the leadership level, hiring the right candidate can dramatically accelerate your organisation’s progress. 

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