Laura J. Daley , a savvy business woman, turned me on to a terrific well-written article about the future of women in large corporations and the future of corporations if they don’t succeed in getting more women to top leadership roles. Andrés Tapia, Hewett’s Chief Diversity Officer and Emerging Workforce Solutions Leader says more women in leadership roles should be “hard-wired” into the overall company strategy. He offers recommendations that reach beyond best practices for achieving this goal.

To read Andrés’ paper, click here.

My comments on his piece appear below.

Dear Andrés:

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for this well-written paper. I will be passing it along and referencing it often.

From Politically Correct to Strategic Advantage

The phrase “diversity strategies hard-wired to the business strategies,” is simple, elegant, and a needed shift in thinking from diversity as “politically correct” to strategic advantage.

Example: A manufacturer of dental equipment failed to make their products small enough to fit in the hands of women, resulting in loss of business. If they had looked at the demographics they would have realized the number of women graduating from dental schools was rising rapidly. Or better yet, if they had women in leadership roles and listened to their voices, the data would have been right in the room.

Women and Economic Health

Nick Kristof, Pulitzer Prize winning NY Times reporter and co-author of Half the Sky, reports that women in developing countries tend to invest their money in feeding and educating their families, thus contributing exponentially to the national wealth. Men, on the other hand, tend to invest in momentary pleasures such as gambling, alcohol and prostitution.

Best Practices Don’t Get Us to the Future

Spot on. Best practices are at best a copy cat of what is happening today, and that is clearly not enough. In my work with companies I advocate for The Rule of 3 as a NEXT practice. Why? The minority voice is often not heard until 3 or more are in the room. So ensuring there are 3 women on top leadership teams where critical decisions are made is an important step in raising the voice and the power of the feminine to inform these decisions.

Pay it Forward for Change

As women advance they have a dual simultaneous commitment. The first is to do well on those measures that are part of the company’s scoreboard.  The second is to change the culture, the criteria for successful leadership and the what’s posted on the scoreboard. For more on these changes see my response in Harvard Business Review to the question of why so few women (1 to be exact) on their top 100 CEOs list.

Corporations as Agents of Change

I joined the world of business because in the U.S. for-profit corporations, either intentionally or by default, are one of the most powerful levers for social change. We all work and we are all affected by the values that are played out in the workplace. I had the good fortune of working for the former Digital Equipment Corporation whose work on Diversity has yet to be matched, in my humble opinion. Change spread to the communities, including school systems, where DEC employees lived.

Workplaces have the power to transform society.

Thanks again for this very rich and well written piece.

Anne Perschel
Anne’s favorite sound is ocean waves receding over stones. Her favorite scenes include beaches and the spontaneous expressions of young children who haven’t yet learned to hide their emotions. She loves the smells of freesias, lilacs and salt water, and in warmer weather enjoys being active in all variations of nature’s gifts.

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