Why Women Mean Business by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox & Alison Maitland

This article was inspired by Avivah Wittenberg-Cox's & Alison Maitland's Why Women Mean Business . If you enjoy this article then consider purchasing or borrowing the book from your local library.


How Your Business can Recognize Women’s Potential

“Broad, inclusive approaches don’t need to be gender neutral. They need to be gender-bilingual.”

Women will affect the economics of the 21st century even more so than the 20th, as the availability of workers in developed countries shrinks. In an ever increasingly diverse global market, traditional male leadership teams are out of touch with the times. Just in the US alone, women comprise only 17% of leadership boards’ members.

Studies demonstrate that placing women on a company’s leadership team leads to increased profits. Though businesses have tried to adapt to changing times by employing more women, they have failed to adapt the workplace to these new employees. Women haven’t been going on to fulfill leadership roles because workplaces aren’t helping them advance, not because women can’t lead. The female approach to business is grounded in relationships. Males have not only alienated women at the workplace, they have also failed to connect to them through sales.

Marti Barletta, writer of Marketing to Women, has asserted that 80% of purchasing decisions in the US are made by women. With a history of lumping all women together, masculine leadership has failed to advertise to them properly. By understanding the feminine perspective on consumption, your sales will rise. Men cannot fully appreciate female purchasing procedures, so putting women into leadership roles will provide your company with a needed perspective.

Ironically, attempts to prevent inequality at the workplace have actually led to discrimination against women. By treating women just like men and encouraging them to practice business like men, companies have hoped to avoid accusations of inequity, but women do not work in the same fashion that men do. They are less aggressive and more holistic in their approach. Use these seven steps to take advantage of women workers’ potential:

  1. “Awaken your leadership team” – Work from the top down and groom prospective female leaders for your team.
  2. “Define the business case” – Argue for gender diversity as a company policy.
  3. “Let people express resistance” – Speak to those of dissenting opinion in person and try to understand their position.
  4. “Make it a business issue, not a women’s issue” – Don’t blame the women for not advancing. The current male dominated system is at fault.
  5. “Make changes before making noise” – Wait until your pieces are aligned before announcing altered policies to the company.
  6. “Don’t mix up the messages” – Your push for gender diversity should not be presented as a form of appeasement. Women are being put into leadership roles because they deserve to be there.
  7. “Give it a budget, not just volunteers” – Actually devote money to your gender initiative. It won’t function without absolute support.

Rather than assuming men and women’s relationship to work, take a flexible approach to managing your employees. Address the concerns of your female employees and change your workplace into an environment for them to advance. When you have done this, your company will gain a new perspective and increase profits.

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