Why Gender Equality Must Be A Boardroom Issue

by CXOtoday News Desk    Sep 24, 2015


Workplace diversity has been a much debated topic today, especially in the IT industry that’s largely dominated by the male population (and mostly white men). While there is a growing consensus among top executives that gender diversity is both an ethical and a business imperative, the progress is painfully slow. Despite modest improvements, women are underrepresented at every level of today’s corporations, especially in senior positions.

In a recent commentary published on McKinsey Quarterly, researchers further take a look into workplace gender equality. While finding the answer to why are women still underrepresented at every level of today’s corporations, authors Dominic Barton, Sandrine Devillard, and Judith Hazlewood mention: “We believe there are several reasons the gender gap so stubbornly persists. For one, in many organizations, senior leadership has only recently committed itself to addressing this challenge.”

Boardroom matters

A Women Matter study showed that gender diversity was a top-ten strategic priority for only 28 percent of companies and for a third of companies, it was not on the strategic agenda at all. It’s widely acknowledged that without a commitment from the top, nearly any major change program will fail.

Another recent study by LinkedIn further reitorates that Silicon Valley isn’t prioritizing gender diversity. The study showed the tech industry is trailing several other sectors when it comes to including women in leadership and senior technology roles. For example, the study shows the medical, government, professional services, retail, entertainment, financial and architecture and engineering sectors all have a higher percentage of women as software engineers than the tech industry, whose talent pool is just 20.3 percent female

“Gender inequality is a multifaceted, entrenched global issue. However, in a recent Adweek report, Karen Kaplan, chairman and CEO of Hill Holliday mentions, companies can significantly gain by having more women serve on corporate boards, influencing from the top not the bottom.

“The value of this shift in perspective is priceless, and CEOs should ignore it at their own peril,” she says adding that “Instead of waiting for more male Fortune 500 CEOs to get around to modernizing their corporate boards and considering women directors, let’s pivot. Let’s get more women to actively pursue those board seats.”

Read more: Is Diversity Your Company’s Most Resounding Mantra?

A recent Gallup study concluded that hiring demographically diverse workforce can significantly improve a company’s financial performance. “Having both men and women allows for balanced ideation and better problem solving which finally leads to superior business performance. Adequate representation of both genders allows for access to wider industry knowledge and serving an increasingly diverse customer base,” mentions Anju Sethi, Head, Learning and Development, Tesco HSC.

Companies cannot afford to ignore this important element of the workforce and expect to be competitive in the global economy, she concludes.

Read About The Top IT Companies With Women-Friendly Policies.