HR Professional - December 2009 - (Page 58)

THE LAST WORD here are no quick fixes for current business challenges. And, as organizations re-examine long-held assumptions to create a better workplace, one of the most important lessons is the value of diverse thought—particularly the unique perspectives of women. Having people from different backgrounds at the table helps foster creative thinking and prevents “groupthink.” Having too few women in positions of power has deprived major firms and the global economy of much-needed diverse thinking. That’s the contention at the heart of Groundbreakers, Ernst & Young’s 2009 report that cites compelling research showing the productive power of women and how they help drive economic growth. But, despite the evidence, companies still fail to tap this potential. Consider the facts: • A 2002 Conference Board of Canada report showed that boards with three or more women were more likely than all-male boards to think about risks and to ensure that codes of conduct and conflict-of-interest guidelines were in place for their organizations. • In 2007, McKinsey scored companies on a range of measures for operational excellence. Companies with three or more women in senior management ranked higher than companies with no women at the top. • A report by The Economist showed women have contributed more to the world’s GDP over the past few decades than the emerging economies of China and India or new technology. • A 2007 Catalyst study found that Fortune 500 companies with more women on their boards showed better financial performance on average than those with fewer women directors. B Y L O U PA G N U T T I WOMEN ARE CRITICAL TO BUSINESS SUCCESS T IL L US T R AT ION: C . JA F F E How can companies take action? No matter how inclusive an organization may be, there are several core principles that can help fine tune its efforts to move more women up the corporate ladder: 1. Build a rich pipeline of future women leaders. Create programs that give women the experiences and mentoring they need now, so they are qualified and ready to seize opportunities as they arise. 2. Open-door policies work best. No one should ever be afraid to speak up even when it differs from the group’s opinion. 3. What gets measured gets done. Everyone must be accountable for getting women on track to access the opportunities and client experiences they need to develop themselves. Build inclusiveness into managers’ scorecards and take the pulse of the employee population to see if they’re getting what they need. The evidence is clear What do the numbers mean? It’s not that women make better decisions, have a greater sense of risk or can uncover fraud better than men, but they do tend to approach decisions differently. Including women has nothing to do with tokenism; rather, the goal is to change the way businesses foster female talent on the whole. To generate true diversity of thought, women should be central to every program and policy created. Advancing women advances the bottom line, not to mention entire communities. Our companies and countries will be stronger if they have more women in decision-making positions. As economies around the world struggle to rebuild, there has never been a better time for businesses to increase the talent pool available to them by capitalizing on the contributions women can make. Lou Pagnutti is chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst & Young, LLP. HR P R OF E S S I ON A L 58 D e c e m b e r 2 0 0 9

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Professional - December 2009

HR Professional - December 2009
Editor's Letter
Leadership Matters
Human Capital
Drowning in Data
Tales of HR Horror
Talent Management
HR 101
Interview with Gareth Jones
Off the Shelf
Index to Advertisers
The Last Word

HR Professional - December 2009