Diversity and inclusion (D&I) programs have been a booming field within organizational management for the past decade, particularly in gender-related initiatives, which are a big business priority across geographies. In general, these programs focus on increasing female representation in leadership roles are driven by:
These motives are not mutually exclusive and may coexist, even though the public perception often assumes that focusing on one implies disregarding or neglecting the others.
Failing to articulate the why of your gender-diversity program is obviously problematic, not least because if you don’t know where you are going, any road may take you there. But, regardless of the underlying motive for the gender-related D&I initiatives of organizations, there appear to be four recurrent errors that explain their general lack of success, and why, despite good intentions, there are very few salient examples of companies that have really driven systematic improvements in their efforts to not just balance the gender ratio in leadership – especially at the top – but also persuade others, both externally and internally, that these changes are meaningful and consequential.
Here are four practical issues to address if more women are to be helped to reach the top, as well as reducing the persistent and uncomfortable gap between the leaders we need, and the leaders we actually get (which I have documented in my book, Why do so many incompetent men become leaders? And how to fix it).
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