3 Ways to Improve Gender Diversity


Everyone recognises the importance of addressing gender diversity withi
n businesses, but very few know how to do this.

A lot of studies have been conducted around the current number of women in senior positions, or even the potential rewards of having a more diverse top team. But, aside from introducing controversial quotas                                                                                                                   or setting up a women’s network, little is                                                                                                             said about how to help women progress.

While Ogilvy & Mather may not have all the answers, Julia Ingall, Group HR & Talent Director at the advertising agency, believes that diversity of all types, including gender diversity, stems from addressing our unconscious biases. ‘If we raise awareness of our unconscious biases, talk about them openly and honestly at all levels of the organisation, with all employees’ we may just start to make a difference.

In addition to ensuring that unconscious bias is part of an awareness programme for everyone in the organisation, Ingall also feels that there are three other simple things that can help to truly encourage females to progress.

1. Sponsors

Mentoring is often considered to be a good way of encouraging the younger generation of aspiring females to succeed. 

However, Ingall believes that ‘sponsorship’ is key. In the book ‘Forget a mentor, Find a Sponsor’, Sylvia Hewett describes the power of having a senior level champion who believes in your potential and is willing to advocate for you as you pursue the next raise or promotion. Ingall says: “There’s something powerful about finding a sponsor that backs you up and helps you find the path you need to go down – whatever that path may look like. But it doesn’t always need to be a female.”

“It just needs to be somebody that believes in you, that knows your strengths, knows your weaknesses, asks you the right questions and is your sponsor.”

Ingall goes on to say that women’s networks make a big difference, and that she is part of a couple herself, but she believes that they really start to make change stick when the conversation is broadened to both genders. Otherwise, she says, “it can become about women talking about women’s issues as opposed to all of us talking about how we can be more diverse across the whole piece.”

2. Executive presence 

One area that is key for both genders is executive presence. The ability to project gravitas, confidence, poise and decisiveness. The ability to communicate with passion and energy, presenting skills, to speak up, use strong and clear language and body language by standing tall and making eye contact, tone of voice, it’s all really important. 

Findings from research interestingly shows that women were found to struggle more with executive presence, probably because corporate culture has been more male focused. The good thing is that executive presence can be developed – asking for feedback, finding opportunities for public speaking and presenting and finding your voice. 

Those of us looking to help younger females to move up the career ladder owe it to them to help raise their awareness of how they come across and to ensure that they have opportunities to develop their executive presence. Programmes such as media training or one on one coaching on presenting can be really helpful.

3. Psychometric testing

“I’m a big believer in psychometric testing – but not just because it helps with recruitment and development, but because it helps with self-awareness,” says Ingall.

“That is something that could be really helpful for women coming through.” However, she explains that not just women, but the entire younger generation should undergo this analysis so that they can better understand themselves throughout their career. “I wish that at 25 I’d gone through the self-awareness programmes then, that I have done since. I wish I had been more aware of what my de-railers are.”

Ingall goes on to say that lots of businesses will use psychometric testing for their entry-level graduates, and then for their senior leaders, but often will miss out everyone else: “I think everyone should go through some sort of self-analysis that helps them really understand themselves.

“When I think about the people that make it in business, apart from being really good at their job, so much of it is behaviour, and fit, and navigating politics – knowing which battles to pick, knowing when to push and when not to and building key relationships.

“And I think you only learn that when you become more and more aware of where you can de-rail.”

Source: https://www.businessgrapevine.co/content/article/2017-01-26-ogilvy-and-mathers-group-hr-and-talent-director-3-ways-to-improve-gender-diversity

Written By: Calum Di Lieto

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