There is a gender gap in the global workforce, especially in the upper echelons. In fact, among the world’s largest 500 companies, only 10.9 percent of senior executives are women, according to Weber Schandwick’s Gender Forward Pioneer Index. 37 percent of these companies have all-male leadership teams, while another 21 percent have only one woman.
That translates into substantial lost income, because studies have revealed that gender diversity at the management level makes companies more profitable. McKinsey’s 2017 Diversity Matters report has shown that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 21 percent more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians.
To put that into perspective, here’s a statement from a Peterson Institute survey of 21,980 firms in 91 countries: “A profitable firm at which 30 percent of leaders are women could expect to add more than 1 percentage point to its net margin compared with an otherwise similar firm with no female leaders. “By way of comparison, the typical profitable firm in our sample had a net profit margin of 6.4 percent, so a 1 percentage point increase represents a 15 percent boost to profitability.”
Not only are diverse companies more profitable; they’re also more respected and able to better attract top talent.
A Glassdoor survey found that 67% of job seekers look at workforce diversity when evaluating an offer. Top female candidates, in particular, care about gender diverse work environments. Another recent survey found that 61% of women look at the gender diversity of the employer’s leadership team when deciding where to work. The result? The most desirable talents prefer companies that are strong on diversity, and this may be why more diverse firms tend to outperform their peers.
The Women@Arkadin initiative
Addressing diversity is, of course, a vast undertaking, so we chose to begin by aiming for a better balance of women in our workplace. Diversity is not only an issue of economic profitability, but also of competitiveness and social performance, both for Arkadin and for every forward-thinking company. Diversity aligns with our core values, particularly those of Respect and Working Together.
Women@Arkadin has been founded on four pillars: HIRE, PROMOTE, CONNECT, and COMMUNICATE.
- HIRE: The goal is to alter the ratio of women to men to achieve a better balance, especially in salesforce, DevOps (where there are no women at all in some of the teams – yet!), and in upper management.To achieve our hiring goals, we now systematically include one or more women in each shortlist for managers to interview, and are training managers on how to hire without being influenced by unconscious biases. One such bias is the “affinity bias”, where people tend to seek out those who share similar backgrounds, group membership, or experiences as their own. In other words, male managers and board members may unconsciously seek to hire those who resemble themselves, which only perpetuates the cycle of men outnumbering women in leadership positions. But we’re dedicated to consciously changing that.By increasing the number of women throughout the company, we can build a stronger reputation: The world’s most admired companies have twice as many women in senior management as those with lesser-regarded reputations.
- PROMOTE: The objective of this pillar it to increase the number of female employees in higher-level positions through internal promotion. In Arkadin’s present situation, even though 45% of our employees are female, the higher women rise in the hierarchy, the fewer their numbers. And that’s the case pretty much all around the world.That’s why we’ve made a commitment to increase the total percentage of women in management roles, from team leaders to ExCom members, to 40% from our current 34%. And we’ll be tracking men’s v. women’s salary increases to ensure there are no unconscious biases with regard to remuneration, just as we’re doing in hiring.
- CONNECT: This pillar of our initiative is designed to help women create the strong networks they need but don’t always have the time to develop – and to answer some of the most important questions women face in the workplace. Women@Arkadin has launched workgroups that will take place every few months in Arkadin’s main offices around the world.The first workgroup addressed a problem many women face: “How to manage your job after having a baby”. All female Arkadians are invited to the sessions to share experiences and ideas that could help the other ones. Other topics like career management will follow up.
- COMMUNICATE: Today, March 8th, 2019, is International Women’s Day – and this year’s theme is #BalanceForBetter. As their site says, “The future is exciting. Let’s build a gender-balanced world. Everyone has a part to play – all the time, everywhere. From grassroots activism to worldwide action, we are entering an exciting period of history where the world expects balance. We notice its absence and celebrate its presence. Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter.”This is the very foundation of our #Women@Arkadin program, whose fourth pillar is communication. To help all Arkadians learn more about diversity and the issues surrounding it, we’ve opened a new communication channel where Arkadians can share articles, events, books, and videos that highlight diversity. We’ll be sharing the results of our Women@Arkadin initiative via global and regional webcasts – and we’ll be ensuring 50% female representation at all corporate events.
We’re proud of this new initiative and optimistic about the positive changes it will bring. Diversity opens companies up to a much wider range of talents, skills, and experiences than ever before, and we believe our commitment to diversity will enable the creation of a powerful, profitable new workplace dynamic.