Women and women’s issues continue to make headlines. From the grassroots of the #MeToo movement to the first all-female panel at the lofty World Economic Summit in Davos, media awareness is high. This covers workplace harassment, “glass ceiling” issues that prevent qualified women from rising in corporations and the bread-and-butter issue of pay inequity. These all contribute to the gender gap.
The good news is there is progress. The bad news is there’s not enough.
Even when women advance, there’s a lot to discourage them. Three years ago, HR Magazine reported on a Bain study suggesting that women who start out with upper management aspirations experience a 60% drop off in their aspiration after a couple of years on the job. The same study also reports a 50% drop in confidence among the same group. That’s terrible news for any organization striving to close its gender gap.
A study conducted earlier this month by Training Industry, Inc. presents a couple of red flags. One is that men are 50% more likely to rate their training experience as highly effective. A second is that training is simply offered to men more often than women.
This suggests that organizations can start closing the gender gap by assuring that training is equally offered, equally encouraged and relevant and unbiased to women.
Training is a tool, strategy, and means to effect individual and collective transformation towards gender equality by raising awareness and encouraging learning, knowledge-building and skills development. It helps women and men to understand the role gender plays and to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary for advancing gender equality in their daily lives and work. Training for gender equality is part and parcel of delivering our commitments to equal human rights for all.
—”Training for gender equality and women’s empowerment,” UNWomen.org
There are some encouraging signs. Corporate organizations have demonstrated that working towards meritocracy and away from homogeneity is good for the bottom line. In January we wrote about a new study from North Carolina State University that suggests that organizations that make strides to achieve workplace diversity are also more innovative.
What can you do in your organization? There are at least three ways HR and Training & Development can address this through:
- Talent acquisition that strategically seeks to find, recruit and retain a workforce that values diversity and is less likely to tolerate behaviors that make any person or group uncomfortable. Hiring assessments can help. Jamesson Solutions is a partner with TTI Solutions, makers of the TriMetrix suite of assessments that give companies a scientifically based battery of metrics for their hiring, on-boarding and retention programs. You can try the basic TriMetrix DNA assessment for free, here.
- Confidence-building engagements that teach practical mastery of presentation skills and effective interpersonal communications to assure everyone has a voice. Public speaking and presentation skills help level the playing field by building fundamental collaborative and negotiating skills among women and minorities who may not feel as confident addressing male dominated situations. But it’s more than that, because a lot of white males need help here too. The goal is for everyone in the organization to be more effective communicators. It’s also a boost to the whole training process, because feeling at ease in front of groups makes further training “stick” better.
- Diversity training interventions that bring teams together to confront and examine behavior that is not inclusive while also leveraging the power of more diverse teams. We’ve had a number of client requests to design training to specifically address generational and gender issues in the workplace and because of this, we’ve started a whole group of “Diversity Training” programs we can deliver to your group. We can also custom design programs.
Can you train away the gender gap? Yes, but not overnight and not with a single initiative. It’s a cultural shift that hiring and development can achieve over time.