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Women in Business

The Real Cost of Gender Bias in Corporate Culture

Will Marré, founder of the Leadership Smart Power Academy, says, “Everyone wants data until it doesn’t confirm what they’re thinking.” This cognitive dissonance reminds me of the current climate in the technology industry where senior female executives are few and far between, despite study after study proving that more women in leadership roles makes for better business.

Consider the statistics

Only 17 percent of technology startups have a female founder, yet those that do show stronger overall performance, according to the TinyPulse’s 2017 Annual Startup Reporter. For profitable firms, a move from no female leaders to 30 percent representation is associated with a 15 percent increase in the net revenue margin, according to The Peterson Institute for International Economics. Finally, the McKinsey Global Institute says that if women participated in the global economy at the same rate as men, as much as 28 trillion dollars or 26 percent could be added to global annual GDP by 2025.

The next step

Of course, the following question tends to be, “So where do we find qualified female executives?” In many cases, the answer is right under your nose.

Organizations like C.E.O. Action for Diversity and Inclusion are bringing companies together to have an open and honest dialogue on things like implicit biases, and to reform practices that have previously left would-be star employees on the proverbial bench.

Once you begin promoting female executives, an interesting domino effect happens. A Randstad Engagement Study found that companies with women in visible leadership positions have a significant impact on recruiting and attracting other top female talent.

Diversity and inclusion

Ramping up internal diversity and inclusion efforts is another step in the right direction, as Google and Twitter have shown with their recent hires of Danielle Brown and Candi Castleberry-Singleton, respectively.

Venture capital firms like Kapor Capital are establishing accountability with their portfolio companies through diversity and inclusion pledges, and initiatives like Better Male Allies are helping men be better active advocates for cultural change.

Set a good example

Remember: Corporate cultures aren’t developed through policies alone. They are established and fostered by leaders who actively set an example with their own beliefs and behaviors. It takes a careful, conscious effort to ensure those who aren’t in the dominant group are included and empowered to participate. It’s both a moral and financial imperative.

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