You Should Be Hiring More Women: Here’s Why
When news hit of the New York Stock Exchange appointing its first female leader[i] in its 226-year history, I read related LinkedIn posts with curiosity. I saw a man express, with frustration, “I’m so tired of this being news.” My response, along with those of my fellow female readers was, “Me too.”
Unfortunately, this is still news. In 2018, almost 100 years after the ratification of the 19th Amendment, just 25 CEOs of Fortune 500 companies were female[ii], and only two of these were women of color. Women’s earnings still trail behind those of men: a recent study estimated that women experience $513B (yes, billion) in lost wages annually due to the gender pay gap[iii].
The nonprofit world, where 73% of the workforce is female[iv], shows some improvement, but the stats are still troubling, particularly within established organizations: 21% of large nonprofit CEOs are women, and just 7.5% of all nonprofit executive staffs (and 14% of nonprofit boards[v]) are women of color[vi]. To make matters worse, women in nonprofits make 66% of the salaries of their male counterparts[vii].
There are any number of reasons for the disparity, however there are two key offenders that I see impacting the women around me. First, implicit bias: organizations hire what they know, and what they subconsciously associate with leadership – maleness and whiteness. Second, women leave the formal workforce to care for family at a much higher rate than male counterparts, and many suffer significant drops in status and pay when they try to re-enter.
Women find work environments can be rife with hostilities that make the workplace inhospitable to women. In 2012, a woman named Laura Bates created a website[viii] for women to post their experiences with ‘everyday sexism.’ Since inception, there have been over 100,000 posts. The single largest post category? Workplace.
Diverse women leaders and workers matter for many reasons: from establishing a broader range of experienced voices to ensuring that women of all backgrounds have access to the workplace and decision-making power. In nonprofits, this can make a big difference especially in an organization’s potential to invest in talent, attract a wider pool of donors, and make smarter programming decisions. A recent report on gender and diversity by BCG, a leading consulting firm, notes that companies with above-average diversity within their management teams have innovation revenue of 45%, versus 26% for those with below-average leadership diversity[ix].
Also critical? Earnings. Cold hard cash.
McKinsey estimates that a fully mobilized female workforce would add $28T to the economy by 2025[x]. And it turns out that all this productivity even has benefits for the next generation. Harvard Business School’s Professor Kathleen McGinn, Professor of Business Administration found that adult kids of working moms are not only high achievers, they’re happy[xi].
So, why is an executive recruiter talking about this?
We have a role to play in diversifying the workplace—we need to be committed to helping organizations be more intentional about hiring leaders that represent the great diversity of our communities. I’ve been committed to helping women throughout my career. It’s one of the reasons I came to work at DRG—a female-led company—and why I lead our Women’s Empowerment & Reproductive Health Practice.
Last year, I’m proud to say, 52% of DRG’s executive searches led to the hiring of female leaders. And we’re trying to do better. This year, we’re improving how we track representations of diversity among our candidates to better identify and address underserved populations, and we’re continuing to formally educate our team on issues like subconscious bias, which have long held marginalized populations back.
As nonprofits contemplate hiring in 2019, they must carefully consider their role in elevating the voices of those not traditionally represented, challenging preconceptions about what a good hire or fit looks/feels/sounds like, and approach searches with an eye for change, for opportunity, and, dare I say, exploration into their own organization’s history of perpetuating or fighting inequity.
As Rosalynn Carter once said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” There is much more work to be done.
About Sara Garlick Lundberg:
Read my previous article, “5 Things I Tell Every Candidate Before an Interview”
[i] Bradley Hope and Alexander Osipovich. 2018. New York Stock Exchange to Have First Female Leader in 226-Year History. https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-york-stock-exchange-to-have-first-female-leader-in-226-year-history-1526955129
[ii] Mark Abadi. 2018. There are only 25 women CEOs in the Fortune 500. https://www.businessinsider.com/fortune-500-companies-women-ceos-2018-8
[iii] Deborah J. Vagins. The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap. https://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/
[iv] The Whitehouse Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership. 2009. https://www.in.gov/icw/files/benchmark_wom_leadership.pdf
[v] The Whitehouse Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership. 2009. https://www.in.gov/icw/files/benchmark_wom_leadership.pdf
[vi] Council on Foundations: State of Change https://www.cof.org/sites/default/files/documents/files/2017-Gender-Diversity-Report.pdf
[vii] The Whitehouse Project: Benchmarking Women’s Leadership. 2009. https://www.in.gov/icw/files/benchmark_wom_leadership.pdf
[viii] Laura Bates. 2012. The Everyday Sexism Project. https://everydaysexism.com/
[ix] Boston Consulting Group. Gender Diversity Research: By the Numbers https://www.bcg.com/capabilities/diversity-inclusion/gender-diversity-research-by-numbers.aspx
[x] McKinsey & Company. Social Impact Report https://www.mckinsey.com/~/media/McKinsey/About%20Us/Social%20impact/Social%20impact%20report.ashx
[xi] Dina Gerdeman. 2018. Kids of Working Moms Grow into Happy Adults. https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/kids-of-working-moms-grow-into-happy-adults
[This article was originally published by Sara Garlick Lundberg in LinkedIn on 02/26/2019]