I’ve worked with multiple Fortune 500 companies, and they have shared five best practices that allow them to be intentional and successful in achieving their constantly improving gender and diversity goals. In this article, I want to discuss the top five gender diversity best practices that increase productivity, profitability, and retention of women.
Best Practice 1: They have Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) and/or networks specifically to support underrepresented demographics.
Many companies are doing this well! For example, Amazon is a global company with ERGs for women, Black employees, Latinx groups, and more. They call their ERGs “affinity groups,” and they offer 13 diverse groups for underrepresented demographics to be a part of. They prioritize community in their workplace. A second company doing ERGs well is Dollar General. Their women’s ERG known as Women’s Professional Network (WPN) works consistently to increase networking, leadership, and education for women. They recently launched their #ChoosetoCelebrate movement during Women’s History month in 2021.
Best Practice 2: They have inclusive behavior as a core tenant that is reflected throughout the company, in all levels and segments of leadership.
Ascension Health Care is a great example of a company with core tenants of diversity and inclusion. Their framework for inclusion is called ABIDE: Appreciation, Belongingness, Inclusivity, Diversity, Equity. They promote social justice, action characterized by compassion, and advocacy for the vulnerable.
Best Practice 3: They have flexible scheduling and work/life integration.
We love the work happening at UBS! They offer a program called Career Comeback, designed particularly for women coming back to work after a career break, such as raising children. The program is designed to work with women, offering both part-time and full-time options as well as on-the-job training. It also includes multi-day onboarding, group coaching, and mentorship to promote successful reintegration into the workplace. We also commend Microsoft for their commitment to assisting employees that need assistance -- in 2020, Microsoft offered paid caregiver leave to parents and other employees struggling to balance work and home life.
Best Practice 4: They have succession plan roadmaps for their high-potential employees with frequent check-ins for progress.
Baker Donelson offers an excellent program called Women’s Initiative. This program is designed with mentorship and women leadership in mind. They offer one-on-one as well as group mentorship opportunities as well as quarterly lunches. They work to deliberately prepare and promote women leadership, and they train all attorneys and advisors at Baker Donelson on the importance of sponsoring women.
Best Practice 5: Employees at these companies have a healthy representation and inclusion of women in leadership roles, including participation in high visibility project opportunities. In addition, they have mentors and sponsors that support their success.
We commend the work of Dell to promote women into leadership roles and provide a pathway to get there. Dell announced on their website that by 2030, their goal is to have women make up 40% of their global leadership team. They offer a variety of mentorship and networking opportunities, including MentorConnect and Releasing Female Potential. Dell is committed to changing their leadership demographic to be more gender-diverse, and their commitment shines through in their policies and opportunities.
As you look into these best practice models, we recommend that you implement one practice at a time with a clear strategic plan and evaluation of your core objectives. Ask employees for feedback via open-ended question assessments to identify challenges and create an organization with higher value and impact.
We Optimize Work helps organizations who seek resources to support their current initiatives for retention of high-potential women in the workplace and gender diversity in leadership roles. Visit www.weoptimizework.com to book a call with Domonique or message her personally on LinkedIn to learn more. Have an optimized day!