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The ROI on Gender Diversity

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Founder and CEO of Women in Payments, Kristy Duncan unfolds how companies are integrating gender diversity in business practice.

Companies across Canada are starting to recognize the important perspectives and insights that gender-balanced teams bring to their businesses. The “business case,” for making gender diversity a key corporate priority is clear. 

Creating an inclusive and diverse culture increases and improves employee retention and facilitates recruitment, which is one of the biggest challenges for companies today. In addition, diversity of gender, background, and ideas builds and improves the organization’s ability to adapt and evolve, fueled by differing points of view. Diversity in an organization also improves risk management capabilities and has proven to increase innovation. That’s an impressive list of reasons to embrace this. 

The “why” is not the most challenging part; it’s the “how” that requires commitment and focus for us to get there. How do we move our organizations toward more gender diversity and, ultimately, gender parity. As in life, there’s no silver bullet, and these efforts require a multi-pronged, multi-year, multi-team approach — driven from the top.

Here are some of the best practices that many companies are integrating into their way of doing business. 

Leadership walks the talk

  • Have one member of the executive team responsible and accountable for gender diversity and inclusion
  • Set internal targets for gender diversity within senior management
  • Publish progress publicly on an annual basis against these targets and
  • Ensure the pay of the senior executive team is linked to delivery against these targets on gender diversity

Get it in writing 

Companies are updating or creating corporate policies to include new practices and clauses that will begin to level the playing field. For example, they may consist of policies around flexible work and work from home, parental leave policies, compensation policies that ensure equal pay for equal work, and requirements for gender and diversity equity, all of which can be incorporated into the hiring and promotion processes. 

Cultivating the culture

For these initiatives and policies to become an accepted part of the corporate culture, the senior leadership team must lead the way by supporting ongoing investment into these initiatives and demonstrating their importance to the business’s success. 

Concrete ways this can be achieved is through developing programs to support female talent, creating mentorship opportunities, offering leadership training tailored to the needs of women, and creating a culture for men to work as allies with their female peers and colleagues. 

Be the CEO of your own career 

These best practices are some ways in which companies are addressing this need. But there are ways every woman can effect change — by being the CEO of her own career. First, be curious: ask, read, learn, and challenge so you can enjoy life-long learning and help others to do the same. Build and maintain your network; it’s your single biggest career asset. Finally, manage your reputation, which is key to opening doors.

And dream big: “If not you, then who?” or “If not now, then when?” 

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