Women now make up about half the workforce, but they are still underrepresented in the highest levels of many company hierarchies. While it’s probably true that few business leaders today are deliberately discriminating against female employees, they may not realize that the upward path for men in their company is smoother than the path for women.
Failing to promote women in your company isn’t just a social issue; it has real, negative effects on the ability of your business to thrive. There are five ways in particular that not promoting women is bad for business.
• You lose the female perspective on your products and services. Assuming you want both men and women to buy the products and services your company offers, it doesn’t make sense to risk alienating either group.
One familiar example of this is many women’s disgust with the “shrink it and pink it” approach. This refers to the strategy of some companies to try to attract female consumers by simply making their existing products smaller and pink. To avoid this kind of misstep, you need women in the room who have the status to speak up and say that an idea is bad.
• Your company is less attractive to quality employees. Younger job seekers, in particular, are very conscious of diversity. When they do their homework on your company, they’ll notice if women are confined to the lower rungs on the ladder. You lose top prospects and the talent they would have brought.
• Low ratings on quality-of-workplace surveys yield a bad public image. You’ve seen the surveys that ask employees to rank their workplace on various criteria. If your company consistently shows up on the low end of the scale on the questions that ask about freedom from harassment and opportunities for advancement for women, you may find yourself facing pointed questions on social media. That’s not the sort of thing you want to go viral.
• Your employees have lower overall job satisfaction. Both men and women report greater satisfaction with their jobs when there is approximate gender parity. They are more engaged with your business and are less likely to burn out and leave. If you want this effect from top to bottom in your company, you need to have women at every level.
• It’s just bad business. Studies have consistently shown that companies with women in important, decision-making roles make more money. Specifically, if a company’s executive ranks increase from 0 to 30 percent female, they may see a 15 percent net revenue increase. Women bring different perspective and different skills, and this shows up in the bottom line.