Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.com

“In the future there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”

Sheryl Sandberg

Last year, a study of more than 21,000 public companies in 91 countries by Peterson Institute (a US Think Tank), and EY, the professional services firm, found that bringing more women into higher management boosted profitability. The study found that a company with 30 percent female leadership could expect to add up to six percentage points to its net margin when compared with a similar business with no female leaders.

Strong women leaders are just like strong men leaders. They take risks, work really hard, lead by example, and engage the imagination of those they lead to inspire greatness. In many organizations, women have had to work even harder than their male counterparts, have tougher skin, and forge their own paths.

How can you leverage the power of diverse thinking to outperform your competitors and increase the value of your company? What does it take to create a path to ensure lasting cultural change to embrace diversity of thought? Now’s the time to create opportunity and positive visibility from the tragedies we see highlighted in the #MeToo movement every day.

Use these three strategies. (Hint: This is NOT more diversity training!)

Listen and Learn

What do women really think about working at your company? How would they describe their chances of rising to the C-Suite? What career path do the first-level managers envision? When do they see the ideal time to leave after gaining valuable experience?

The answers may surprise you. In discussions with women of all levels in large organizations, their main concerns were security and opportunity for advancement. Studies show that women are nearly three times as likely to be concerned about their opportunities for promotion as men. Men generally assume that they’ll get promoted, women generally assume that they won’t. At what stage do you lose high-potential women?

Create a Strategy for Cultural Change

Making significant change takes time and investment. Just as you invest in capital projects to support new product development, you must invest the time, energy, and money to leverage the talent throughout your organization. This isn’t a quick fix but one that’ll capture the minds and hearts of not only your future leaders but also those of your customers and partners.

Your commitment starts at the top and is visible and real at every level of the company. You’ve learned where your gaps are in the first strategy, now engage at every level to show that you’ve listened.

It’s not about lip service and new policies, it’s about catching teams who are creating success, and highlighting those wins. Have conversations, be visible, and truly support the changes you want to make. As the leader, show your personal involvement and awarenessthe benefits will multiply!

Ensure Lasting Change by Developing Your Next Leaders

Companies that actively engage with women at the entry level about their possibilities for advancement set themselves up for success. It’s never too early to be thinking about retention. Your recruiting process now reflects your strategy and true belief in the value of diverse thought. This shift changes how you’re perceived in the marketplace, leading to the increase in profitability you seek.

True cultural change doesn’t happen overnightor simply with 100% compliance with diversity awareness training. You must lead the change and put multiple strategies in place to ensure success. Have patience and communicate often. Wander around.

Executive coaching for your C-Suite leaders is imperative to support them through potentially significant shifts in thought and approach. Equally important is to develop your next generation of leaders. Your high-potentials at all levels will be ready for their next steps with leadership development programsincluding coaching.

You’ll benefit from women and men alike being prepared for success at their next promotion. Gone are the days of promoting numbers in categories to enhance your diversity stats, setting those promoted up to fail, and the overall impression of “they just can’t do the job.”

Your opportunity’s huge and the investment well worthwhilefrom a financial perspective as well as a cultural one. Jump in!

BreakAway Leadership Coaching and Fortitude Consulting have forged a unique and powerful alliance to energize successful companies to dramatically increase profitability through a true integration of women into their leadership. We work with our clients to create sustainable cultural change that goes far beyond #MeToo and removes cultural blind spots for a significant gain. Please contact us at [email protected] for a free consultation and more ideas on creating success through diversity.

 Photo Credit: Brooke Cagle, Unsplash.com