Organisations that are keen to achieve gender diversity and organisational change typically start the easy way.
They start a women’s network or get people trained in unconscious bias. Unfortunately, this is not the way forward. Organisations that have tried, have learned that if you want to achieve real change and create gender balance you cannot just focus on women or stand-alone initiatives. It’s not a one-off project or training programme that is going to make the difference. What you need instead is a wider programme of organisational change.
Now this may sound quite complicated, and you may be wondering whether you are on the right track. Which programmes do you need? And where do you start?
In fact, organisational change is a well-researched area, and I have had a look for you at the organisational change models that are typically used. Next, I have put them together in a 6-step model that can easily be applied to gender diversity.
This is the 6-step model I use and would like to share with you.
Let me explain each step in a bit more detail
1. Assess your current situation
What do your numbers tell you about gender diversity? What are the barriers for women?Compare the ratio of men/women when hiring, moving up, leaving, at each level, on training programmes and in high-potential programmes or high-profile projects. Check for differences between job roles, departments and location. The gender pay gap is a good ratio too. Supplement the numbers by qualitative data from interviews and/or focus groups. What are the barriers for women? What is behind the numbers? Have a look at this case study on ‘Barriers for Women’ to see how this works in practice.
2. Build a vision and case for action
Decide why it is relevant for your organisation to work on gender diversity. Is it about getting the best talent, is it to connect better with clients, or is it just because you believe in being a great place to work for all? Ideally work out your business case in bottom line numbers, and create one for each department. In research it could be about getting the best team, whereas in product design it could be about better understanding the market.
3. Raise awareness
Get the message out that diversity counts in your organisation, what is it and why is it important for the business? Start with the top team. If they ‘walk the talk’ the message will get across loud and clear. Here are 9 tips to get senior leaders on board with diversity. You can also consider an awareness campaign including for instance: lunch time talks, large events, videoclips, posters, stickers, pop-up messages and all staff meetings or e-mails. Networking groups or an organisation-wide dialogue can work too.
4. Build gender smart skills
Ensure managers and staff have the right skills to work effectively together. Women need to follow a Women Leadership Progamme and know how they are different; it builds confidence and improves their effectiveness. Men need to know how best to communicate in mixed gender teams. Leaders need to follow a Gender Smart Leadership Programme and learn how to change their style so it works for men and women. Mentors and coaches need to know how best to support men and women. This is what I call ‘gender smart’ skills.
5. Support implementation
Adapt processes so they work for both men and women. Review your people processes and check where they are typically geared for men and adapt them. You could include a review of the following processes: recruitment (channels, employee brand, advertising), hiring (assessment, interview), appraisal, learning & development, promotion and reward systems.
6. Measure and reward
Little will be achieved if there is no feed back about results. Set SMART objective or targets for each area, and – after an implementation period – link them to rewards.
How to start with gender diversity and organisational change?
This may sound like a massive programme, and it can be. But you can start small, in one area and take it step by step. First of all just evaluate in which of these areas your current projects are already contributing. Many organisations find they have most of the numbers, and are on the way for a good case for action. You may already have some training programmes in place too. Then start with adding new initiatives in those areas where you are currently doing very little, and of course always measure results.
If you are looking for help to build your programme, why not give us a call to discuss where you are, and what you need at the moment?