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60 Percent of U.S. Companies Still Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

A recent study revealed that roughly 40% of U.S. companies offer paid parental leave for both parents. Many publications, including the survey itself, highlighted this figure as a positive, citing lower numbers in the past. While any improvement is welcome, these results imply that 60% of organizations in the nation still don’t offer paid paternity leave.

The lack of paid leave for both fathers and mothers can intensify workplace inequality and damage businesses. Here’s a closer look.

Why Companies Don’t Offer Paid Paternity Leave

To understand this issue fully, it helps to look at why so many companies don’t offer paid leave. Perhaps the most significant factor behind this choice is that it’s not a requirement. There is no national legislation that says businesses have to offer paid leave to either parent, much less both.

There are, however, paid parental leave requirements in five states and Washington, D.C., with varying provisions. At least five other states are currently considering paid leave laws, but that leaves most of the U.S. with no such legislation. When businesses don’t have to offer these benefits, many won’t — primarily because of the expense.

At first, paying an employee while they aren’t adding value to the company can seem like a financial risk. While it may seem that not offering paid leave can save a company money, it’s destructive in the long run — both employees and the companies they work for suffer.

How These Policies Impact Different Demographics

Although 40% of U.S. companies offer paid leave to both parents, that doesn’t mean 40% of workers experience those benefits. The businesses that provide these programs don’t employ a proportional amount of the workforce, so surveys show that just 20% of private-sector employees had access to such benefits in 2020.

There is a sharp economic divide between workers who do and do not receive paid parental leave, too. Only 8% of workers in the bottom wage quartile have access to these programs. Low-wage workers, who would suffer tremendously from weeks of unpaid leave, are far less likely to get paid leave.

Years of racial bias and oppression in America mean this divide is a racial one, too. Black and Hispanic workers, coming from historically disenfranchised families and neighborhoods, are less likely to receive paid leave for either parent.

How Businesses Benefit from Paid Paternity Leave

These disparities in paid parental leave programs worsen the economic and racial divides that already plague the nation. The impacts of a lack of paid leave don’t end with creating more division, though; they have economic effects as well. And yet, when businesses offer paid leave for both parents, they often see positive productivity gains.

Caring for a newborn child is stressful, and having to do so without a reliable income exacerbates that stress. Studies show that unexpected absenteeism, which can cost companies $3.5 million a year, is more often than not the result of stress. After all, stressed employees are far more likely to miss work and be less productive in the workplace.

Offering paid leave to only one parent fails to mitigate these issues effectively. The parent at home may feel more stressed from shouldering the burden of childcare alone, potentially harming their productivity when they return. The parent at work may have trouble focusing from spending time away from their newborn, impacting their productivity as well.

Providing both paternity and maternity leave ensures both parents can raise their newborn without economic difficulty. In return, their morale will improve, leading to less stress and higher productivity when they return.

How Paid Paternity Leave Supports Women in the Workforce

It’s impossible to discuss the impacts of parental leave without mentioning gender inequality in the workplace. Lack of paid parental leave for women doesn’t just widen the gender wage gap; it drives women out of the workforce. While it may not seem unrelated at first, paternity leave also impacts women’s work experiences.

When fathers can take time off as well as mothers, it reduces the stress of childcare. Fathers can take over raising children for a time, giving mothers a chance to get back to work. Paid paternity leave means women don’t have to bear the entire burden of raising a newborn, helping them retain their vital place in the workforce.

Past studies have indicated that paid paternity leave also reduces absenteeism among mothers, helping keep women satisfactorily employed. Similarly, countries with mandated paternity leave show higher rates of female employment in private companies. The bottom line: Paid paternity leave improves equality at home, and leads to more equity in the workplace.

Gender Equality: U.S. Companies Still Have a Way to Go

This Women’s History Month, companies should consider how their policies affect their female workers. Even paternity leave can impact women’s involvement in the workplace. Businesses that don’t provide equitable policies hinder gender equality among their employees and in their communities.

For years, women have had to bear most of the burden of child-rearing, limiting their professional careers. Equitable policies like paid leave for all parents lighten this burden, enabling women to achieve their full professional potential. The U.S. has made some tremendous strides in the pursuit of workplace gender equality, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Closing the STEM Gap: Promoting Gender Equity at All Levels

According to the National Girls Collaborative Project, although women make up half of the total college-educated workforce in the U.S., they only comprise 29 percent of the workforce in science and engineering-related fields. Part of the reason for this seems tied to students’ choices of majors, at the undergraduate level: the most recent statistics from the National Science Foundation indicate that women receive only 17.9 percent of bachelor’s degrees in computer science, and only 19.3 percent of engineering degrees.

Why the persistent gender gap, you may ask? Part of the reason seems to be tied to cultural norms while in school; then, after graduation, workplace culture. Knowing this,how, specifically, do we address the issue? Many of the articles and analyses of the problem ended with a vague call-to-action to “Do better” or “Be more inclusive,” while ignoring specific ways STEM-based workplaces might make themselves more welcoming and inclusive toward women. There is a resource I came across in my research that I found particularly illuminating: it’s called “Advancing Women in Tech-Intensive Industries: Transforming Organizational Cultures,” published by an organization called White Men as Full Diversity Partners.

The resource offers specific suggestions such as altering the language in job descriptions and recruiting documents, and revising talent management systems to include more extensive training and development opportunities for women. WMFDP also suggests making sure women are well-represented as supervisors and trainers throughout the advancement process, encouraging women to stay by cultivating a culture of respect and inclusiveness, and offering re-entry and re-training programs for employees who leave on temporary hiatus to care for their families.

The first step, then, seems to be to implement a diversity-minded plan from the top down, as well as throughout the organization. Such change also requires adjustments in HR policy with regard to diversity training for management. Lastly, it seems crucial that there be policies in place to ensure a minimum percentage of female representation at all levels, so as to ensure a welcoming and supportive environment for women throughout the organization—because, let’s face it, change isn’t going to magically happen via good intentions and some vague notion of “awareness.”

Take, for example, the impending reductions in workplace safety regulations. This is a technical field with broad overlap with HR-related oversight and operations-related management. The creation of an additional internal health and safety professional who is able to make up for the lack of OSHA funding, in this case, is warranted—assuming your workplace involves a warehouse, factory, or manufacturing component. Companies can entrust their Hazard Communication program to the internal health and safety professional, who should oversee employee training related to workplace hazards and how to prevent them. For example, the internal safety specialist position could be combined with that of a sustainability director; this person may then be tasked with educating management in a manufacturing field on the environmental and health-related benefits of oil-free air compressors—as opposed to regenerative air dryers.

Another possible position for women in STEM fields is a corporate representative who reaches out to girls at a relatively young age—around middle school or junior high school grades—and serves as an ambassador to schools. In addition to giving educational presentations to classrooms, they might serve as coordinators of job shadowing programs that bring young women into the workplace and offers a glimpse of what it’s like to work as a software engineer, for example. Despite persistent gender inequality in STEM-related fields, Stacey Mabray, faculty member at the college of education at Concordia University, notes, “There are initiatives that push for inclusion such as Girls Code Camps and Sisters Science Clubs.”

One particular coding organization designed for young women, Girls Who Code, has enjoyed widespread success by reaching out to girls at a time in their lives when interest in computer programs begins to drop off: between the ages of thirteen and seventeen. They’ve started after school clubs and summer immersion programs to make educational outreach more accessible and convenient for school-age girls, as well. Most importantly, they’ve reached out to tech companies like AT&T and Adobe to establish internship programs and other career-related opportunities for alumni of the program.

Managers responsible for Research & Development instruction and supervision can take a cue from Harvey Mudd, a STEM-focused college that completely revised the computer science curriculum in 2005, leading to its current rate of computer science majors among female graduates: 55 percent. They did so by placing women in leadership positions, overhauling the computer science curriculum, and having faculty encourage students to utilize office hours, rather than ask questions in class—one way that more talkative students dominate discussion time, inadvertently at others’ expense. Because more women leave the introductory programming course with a positive impression, a larger number of women ultimately decide to major in computer science.

There are a few good reasons why the current labor force is in need of more women pursuing careers in STEM-related disciplines. While men tend to solve problems in a linear fashion, women are more likely to think holistically—which can help with project management, strict deadlines, and meeting the expectations of clients; this difference in problem solving increases the diversity and innovation of the tech world. Women also stand to benefit because they are exposed to fun, rewarding, and creative opportunities not present in other fields—as well as higher salaries, which would help alleviate the persistent gender-wage gap. Lastly, women can introduce technology into fields like healthcare and education, two fields that have historically been popular with women, in order to become more successful.

*   *   *

We need more Margaret Hamiltons to help inspire little girls to be interested in space exploration, as well as women like Kathleen Hogan, an HR executive at Microsoft who is working to close the gender gap in pay at her company. By working together throughout all levels of a company, we can continue to find ways to ensure that women are well-represented in STEM-related fields—which will, in turn, promote a more diverse and innovative future that reflects all of us.

Photo Credit: Fulbright Ireland Flickr via Compfight cc

The Truth Is in the Data: The Top 5 Ways to Recruit More Women

As a professional in the talent space today, you’ve no doubt run across some facts and figures from the likes of McKinsey, Gallup, Deloitte…the list goes on…showing that companies with more female employees, particularly in management roles, yield stronger organizational and financial performance.

As a result, the focus on recruiting female employees continues to grow, and companies are pulling out all the stops. Fertility benefits, shipping breast milk home from work trips, in-office massages and manicures, on-site OB/GYNs, and feminine products in the restrooms are just a few of the ways companies are getting creative with trying to appeal to women.

While these things may be appreciated by female employees, they’re not what’s driving their decision to come on board with your company—or to stick around. We must realize that recruiting female talent is about more than just flashy perks.

At InHerSight, a new platform in the online recruiting space, we’re striving to propel this perspective. Through our site, we enable women to rate their current employers on 15 fixed metrics such as management opportunities, maternity leave, and salary satisfaction, and we use this data to match women with new job opportunities based on what they’re looking for in an employer. And from the company’s point-of-view, we help organizations be more successful at recruiting female talent and building more female-friendly workplaces using our data and insights.

Recently, we analyzed responses from 15,000 women looking for great workplaces on our site, across a broad range of ages, industries, and geographies. Women were able to select multiple options from our metrics. The results may surprise you—what women said they wanted most from their employers was not ample maternity leave or mentorship programs or other fancy incentives.

So, before you update your career website, write your next job description, craft your latest job offer, or even decide how you’re going to allocate funds to certain benefits and perks, read on to learn what women really value most from their employers and then use this information to appeal to them to come work at your company. Here are the top five items, in order of importance:  

1.  Paid time off (90% of respondents)

Our top answer, paid time off, demonstrates that women want the ability to manage their own work-life balance. This comment from an employee at non-profit DonorsChoose highlights the positive impact of being able to take time off when you need it: “As a junior leader…I feel extremely supported and empowered to take risks, take time for myself, and prioritize my workload to meet business needs without burning myself out. We work extremely hard, but we also get lots of vacation time and flex(ible) work opportunities.” If your company isn’t providing a reasonable amount of paid time off, it may be time to rethink the value that this could bring your workforce.

2.  Salary satisfaction (89% of respondents)

This is an obvious one—women want to be paid fairly for the work they do. While there is certainly more strides to be made regarding equal pay in this country and elsewhere, women at the very least want to be compensated competitively for the amount of effort they put in, the experience they bring, and the scope of their responsibilities.

Our research revealed that computer technology company Dell appears to be getting this right as one employee commented: “…it seems that salaries are based on hard work, perform(ance), and seniority, not gender.” And an employee from tech giant Amazon commented, “(There are) long hours and high expectations but (it’s) manageable with the right boss, and salary is commensurate with effort, in my opinion, which makes it worthwhile.” Beyond making sure your salaries are competitive in the market in general, companies should conduct an annual salary review to ensure that men and women who have the same level of responsibility and experience are paid in parallel. And wherever discrepancies are found, you should work with your CFO or Financial Planner to make the necessary adjustments.

3.  Outstanding co-workers (89% of respondents)

Our research shows that women seek co-workers who are respectful, professional, unbiased, and generally easy to work with. This comment from an employee at enterprise software company Asana highlights the positive benefits that women feel when they get to work with great people: “I feel encouraged to speak my mind, supported to soundboard my thoughts, and in very good company.” Clearly, interactions with colleagues and the social environments cultivated by companies have a huge impact on how women feel about their employers, with women citing specifically that strong male-dominated “old boys” and “bro” cultures were off-putting, and that instead, they sought a culture that took gender out of the equation. By implementing a structured interview process in your company, you can be sure to hire for the qualities, personalities, and culture fit that fuel an environment that women are attracted to—and thrive in.

4.  Equal opportunities for men and women (85% of respondents)

There’s no hidden message here; it’s exactly how it sounds—if men have access to an opportunity, a women should as well. Opportunities should be based solely on merit. So, follow suit and provide equal access to promotions, leadership roles, salary increases, and incentive programs. One employee at mobile games platform Chartboost describes it well: “(This is) the first time in my career that I’ve felt my gender truly had no bearing on how I’m treated as an employee. I see men and women equally represented in management positions and being given equal opportunities to move up within the company.”

5.  Flexible work hours (81% of respondents)

Women strongly seek employers who are flexible with working hours, allowing them to set their own schedules and successfully attend to both the demands of life and work. An employee at best practice insights company CEB stated: “As an employee who has both a senior job and a lot of outside commitments, my manager and I work together to create the right schedule for me—and communicate (it) to others within CEB—in order to fulfill my personal AND professional ambitions.” Employers seeking more female talent should thus become amenable to the idea that it’s about your employees’ ability to do their jobs and do them well—and not as much about when and where they do it.

What women want

As a whole, our data indicate that women are not looking for employers to answer their specific needs, whether for family-raising, socializing, or creating work-life balance. Nor do companies need to offer a bunch of fancy perks and incentives. Rather, women seek employers that treat them fairly and provide them with the choice, the flexibility, and the financial means to fashion their own lives as they see fit.

A version of this post was first published on Greenhouse.io.

Surprise: Big Perks Don’t Always Equal Happier Female Employees

The conversation about women in the workplace is getting personal. And maybe that’s a good thing.

This past summer, an ex-employee called out Amazon for its inhospitable policies toward women and parents. In September, a female employee sued Microsoft for gender discrimination. It wasn’t the only high-profile company to come under fire: both Twitter and Facebook are defendants in similar suits filed this year.

At the same time, several companies (mainly in the technology sector) have upped their game in the race to acquire top—and specifically, female—talent, engaging in fierce competition. Consequently, there has been an increase in female-focused perks: Apple and Facebook are helping women freeze their eggs, while IBM and Twitter now express-ship breastmilk home to babies while their parents are away on business. There has been a slew of revamped policies on parental leave: with VodaphoneJohnson & JohnsonGoldman SachsBlackstoneChange.orgNetflixMicrosoftAdobe, and the U.S. Navy all enacting more progressive codes.

So, what’s fueling this fire?

When we look at all these revolutionary changes, we may conclude that companies are simply acting in their own best interest, now that the business case for diversity has been made. Last year, Scientific American reported on a study finding that, on average, “female representation in top management leads to an increase of $42 million in firm value.” That’s a hard number to ignore! Or it might be that women (at least, those in a position to do so) are heeding the warnings of others when choosing where to work, selecting companies that support their particular needs, and building a new direction for office culture. Companies may be reacting to a real and growing dissatisfaction among their female employees.

No matter what the reason, this momentum toward significant change is certainly a welcome one. But the motivation behind the policy revisions may actually matter—a lot—as to whether they represent the actual change that is needed.

It forces us to ask, where’s the disconnect between what working women want, and what companies have on offer?

Perks are half the story

Business Insider article recently pointed out that various perks—such as the $2,000 stipend to buy maternity clothes offered by Domo—may not actually help women and parents. Instead, it functions as “a consolation prize” for the genuine need. (In Domo’s case, as in many cases, that genuine need is guaranteed paid parental leave for U.S. workers.)

Even more important is the potential difference between a company’s policies—e.g., 12 weeks of paid maternity leave—and company realities—e.g., very few employees willing to take that full leave, as corporate culture pressures them to return early. Without including both, you don’t get a full picture of a workplace environment.

That’s precisely what motivated Ursula Mead to found InHerSight, a platform for every woman to rate employers’ female-friendly (or not) policies on both the “hard” facts and the “soft” realities. The site solicits feedback via a three-minute, anonymous survey. In other words, you don’t have to be a top executive at a household-name company to speak up about workplace gender discrimination, poor parental support, inflexible work schedules, or the nature of opportunities available for growth and leadership. Conversely, it highlights which companies are outstanding in these areas, as judged by their own employees.

By providing this invaluable feedback, women (and men, too) are creating a rich database that helps fellow site users make informed job choices that support their unique career and lifestyle needs.

Company policies tell only half the story. The other half comes from the people who know the companies best—the women who work there and are affected by those policies, Mead emphasizes.

“In the quest for greater equality for women in the workplace, the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of policy implementation are often more important than the policy itself. Numbers that look great on paper aren’t always great in reality, and benefits that may appear middle-of-the-road could be fantastic,” she explains.

She offers the example of Cisco, which offers six weeks of paid maternity leave to employees. That’s far fewer than many of their tech-sector peers, yet it has a satisfaction score of 3.5 out of 5 for the “Maternity and Adoptive Leave” metric on InHerSight. IBM, on the other hand, offers 14 weeks paid and receives a score of just 3.3 from the women who work there. Amazon, which falls somewhere in between at eight paid weeks, has a score of just 2.3*. Factors for the discrepancy may include how welcome parents feel towards taking the full time, or how difficult it is to settle back into the workplace after taking leave.

Data also shows you can’t judge a company by its leader. Organizations run by women aren’t necessarily doing a better job of encouraging female leadership. Yahoo provides a prime example. Despite Marissa Mayer’s role as CEO, Female Representation in Top Leadership is one of the company’s lowest-rated metrics on InHerSight.

User comments on the site reflect this potential disconnect. One Yahoo reviewer states, “Although we have a woman CEO, I have seen a lot of women executives leave as they weren’t promoted and didn’t get the support they needed.” This may connect to the fact that its other low-ranking stat is Telecommuting and Sponsorship/Mentorship.

Positive change for one and all

While the wealth of collective information coming from sources like InHerSight can benefit women seeking a positive place to move forward in their careers, the best news is there’s evidence that employers are paying attention as well.

Mead says, since she launched InHerSight in January 2015, she has received a steady flow of inquiries and interest from companies wanting to understand their metrics, as well as the types of benefits they can offer to recruit and support female employees. “We love to see companies trying to create solutions that really do benefit the women who work for them,” she adds.

Perhaps “solutions” is the right word. After all, as long as we’re still just offering “perks”—that is, looking at women’s workplace satisfaction as a set of fringe benefits—we won’t have made the kind of mainstream, center-field change we need to create better gender balance. Having more solid data of the same nature that InHerSight collects is paramount to providing solutions that don’t just look good on paper, but in reality.

*Amazon announced on November 2, 2015 its plan to increase paid parental leave for its employees.

A version of this post was originally published on  The Toolbox.

photo credit: Catfeet via photopin (license)

Why So Many "Groundbreaking" Company Policies Fall Short for Women

Unlimited paid parental leave. Sounds amazing, right? When Netflix announced that it was offering “unlimited” (up to 12 months) paid leave to new moms and dads, its chief talent officer touted the new policy: “Each employee gets to figure out what’s best for their family.”

It’s a bold and admirable step for a US company, creating a new golden standard for other companies to strive for and setting Netflix up as a leader in promoting equality and support for working parents.

But policies are only one part of the story.

In the quest for greater equality for women in the workplace, the how’s and why’s of a policy’s implementation are often even more important than the policies themselves. Things that look great on paper (and sound even better in a press release) won’t always be great in reality, while policies that may look middle-of-the-road could be fantastic depending on the culture that surrounds them.

Take it or leave it?

Is it any surprise that when women take maternity leave, they often come back to jobs that have changed, moved, or disappeared altogether? You portion off your duties to colleagues, sometimes hoping that things don’t go well without you because you want to be needed.

There’s more to the story than simply how many weeks of paid leave are written in the employee handbook. And in cases like Netflix, where there’s ambiguity around how many weeks you take, we may find that this golden standard actually causes more problems for women than it solves. You’re the one making the call on how much leave you take or whether you come back part-time at first, and that can be seen as a reflection of how dedicated you are to your employer.

As a result, even more important than policies themselves is the potential difference between a company’s policies and company realities — e.g., very few employees willing to take that full leave, as corporate culture pressures them to return early. Without understanding both, you don’t get a full picture of a workplace environment.

Take Cisco, which offers six weeks of paid maternity leave to employees. That’s far fewer than many of their tech-sector peers, yet it has a satisfaction score of 3.5 out of 5 for the “Maternity and Adoptive Leave” metric on InHerSight. IBM, on the other hand, offers 14 weeks paid and trails Cisco with a score of 3.3 from the women who work there. Factors for the discrepancy may include how welcome parents feel towards taking the full time, or how difficult it is to settle back into the workplace after taking leave.

We can’t keep having policies fall short, nor can we let company policies alone be our measure for progress. The best way to help change that is to show companies what they need to do better as well as what they’re doing right.

A version of this post was first published on InHerSight on November 23, 2015

photo credit: Woman and young girl in kitchen with laptop and paperwork smiling via photopin (license)

Gender, Influence and the Use of Qualifiers

Your organization has a major operational problem. A strategic team has been called together to come up with a solution. You have winnowed the options down to three (3) after four (4) long meetings.

The leader of the group asks each individual to state his or her choice. Your choice is Option A.

Let’s consider some options:

You say: “My best guess is Option A.”

What may be heard: “If after all of this discussion you only have a guess, I’m not sure why we included you in these discussions.”

You say: “I feel that Option A would be best.”

What may be heard: “Feelings are not facts. Where is the analysis?”

You say: “I believe Option A is the best alternative.”

What may be heard: “I’m glad that is what you believe, but is that the right alternative?”

You say: “I think Option A is the best option.”

What may be heard: “I’m glad that you are thinking, but I sense some hesitancy.”

You say: “In my judgment, Option A is the best alternative.”

What may be heard (hopefully): “He or she has judgment and is exercising it in favor of Option A.”

By beginning with “in my judgment,” you are implicitly acknowledging that there are other viable options. However, you are making clear your preference, with the meta message being that you have good judgment, too.

This is more than simply semantics. We all know how we communicate affects our influence.. This is true for both men and women alike. However, the issue may be particularly important for women to consider.

We know that directness engaged in by a man may be seen less favorably when engaged in by a woman. Accordingly, to anticipate the bias, women sometimes hedge. None of the above examples is hypothetical.

Unfortunately, the hedge may make the woman appear weak, even when she is not. Anticipating the bias results in weak language which reinforces the bias.

You can be confident without exhibiting hubris. Beginning with “In my judgment,” is but one way to do so.

I guess it’s time to end this blog. Don’t you think?

Photo credit: Bigstock

#TChat Recap: Live From Ireland: The IT@Cork European Technology Summit

This week, Kevin W. Grossman and I presented a very special live podcast and #TChat Twitter chat from Cork, Ireland.

Hosted at the popular IT@Cork European Technology Summit, this week we focused on the the impact of gender diversity on technology business performance around the world. We had the luck of the Irish with our stellar line up of international guest experts.

This week’s awesome guests were David Parry-Jones, VP UKI Vmware; Caroline O’Driscoll, Tax Partner at KPMG, Vice Chair of IT@cork; Michael Loftus, Head of Faculty of Engineering & Science at CIT.

Bucking the international norm, women in Ireland hold positions of seniority in a staggering number of large global tech businesses including Apple, Microsoft and PayPal.

In fact, a University of Cambridge study has observed that Ireland is fifth in the world for female economic power, ranking just behind Australia, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Overall, however, the current state of women in technology isn’t great, especially in the U.S. For example, the leadership at all of the top tech companies remains dominated by men.

The IT@Cork European Technology Summit panel deep dived into issues of gender equality, leadership and the wider perceptions of roles and people who fill them. For example, we talked about the perception that IT pros are mainly male and ‘geeky’.

Did You Miss The Podcast Show? Listen On BlogTalkRadioiTunes or Stitcher.

 

What’s Up Next? #TChat Returns Wednesday, May 13th: #TChat Radio Kicks Off at 1pm ET / 10am PT — Our weekly radio show runs 30 minutes. Usually, our social community joins us on Twitter as well.

Next week’s topic: How True Relationship Building Rises Above Social. #TChat Twitter Kicks Off at 1:30pm ET / 10:30am PT — Our halfway point begins with our highly engaging Twitter discussion. We take a social inside look at our weekly topic. Everyone is welcome to share their social insights #TChat.

Join Our Social Community & Stay Up-to-Date! The TalentCulture conversation continues daily on See what’s happening right now on the #TChat Twitter stream in our LinkedIn group, and on our Google+ community. Engage with us anytime on our social networks or stay current with trending World of Work topics through our weekly email newsletter. Signing up is just a click away!

Passive-Recruiting

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Diversity and Inclusion Drive the Road to Remarkable

“Half the world is
Half the world was
Half the world thinks
While the other half does…”

–Neil Peart (writer and musician, “Half the World”)

The nightlight burned brighter. It didn’t make any sense at the time because it was the same nightlight we always used in the hallway for our girls, and it was never usually that bright.

As usual I tossed and turned earlier in the night, with the weight of my world raining down like meteors in the night sky, cratering my sleep with burning questions.

I woke at 3:45 am, 45 minutes before I really had to, the nightlight lighting up our white bedroom door. It seemed to pulse slowly like a sleeping heart rate, calming and warm. I knew it was really 4:45, because of daylight savings time – Spring forward and all. What a day to be heading East when time heads West, I thought.

When I deleted the alarm time I had set the night before, I noticed the text. I rubbed my eyes to ensure I read it correctly.

Kevin, it’s Kevin – call me.

I went downstairs and texted back: Who is this?

I’m you. In the future. Please call me. It’s important.

I set the phone down on my desk. Then, another text.

Please, call me at…

The number texted to me, from whoever it was on the other end, was my cell phone number.

What the hell?

I didn’t have to leave for the airport for another hour, so I called it. This is crazy; it’s just going to give me a busy signal.

But it didn’t. The ring sounded warped, slowing down, then speeding up. A somewhat familiar voice answered.

“Hello?” the man said, again slightly distorted. I also heard what sounded like the ocean, the ebb and flow of surf crashing on the beach.

“Hello,” I answered. “Who’s this?”

“Listen, Kevin, I don’t know how much time I have, but I have a gift for you.”

I didn’t answer.

“Really, it’s not a joke. You’re calling the future and I have great news.”

“Who is this?” I asked.

More ocean sounds, moving in and out of tinny monotone and digital clarity.

“I’m you. Trust me. I can’t give you many details, but know that your girls are happy and have grown into strong and empathic women who are leaders in their fields. In fact, there are more women from various cultural backgrounds in leadership roles worldwide than ever before. And men are more supportive peers and colleagues who shoot themselves in the feet much less often.”

“How did you know I worry about that for them?” I asked.

“Because I’m you,” came the answer. “Your world today is still very male dominated, but that will change. Trust me.”

“Right on,” I instinctively replied. “Wait, I can’t believe I’m listening to this, I’m hanging up now.” Time inched closer to my airport departure. I readied myself to disconnect the call.

“You and your wife did a remarkable job, Kevin. You’re…I mean…we’re the better halves of doing and making things whole,” the familiar voice on the other end added, as clear as if it were in my own head. “Be grateful for girl power.”

I found myself compelled to respond. “Nothing’s that easy. There’s still too much to do and we can’t do it alone.”

“You’re right, it wasn’t easy, but the world figured it out and we finally evolved socially and economically. A little here, a little there. Spring forward and all that, you know.”

I shook my head and closed my eyes. I must be dreaming.

“Oh, and also in the future there’s free Wi-Fi and power everywhere in the air, letting us work from anywhere at anytime, all from sustainable clean energy and pretty sweet wireless quantum physics technology.”

“That’s great. The future’s so bright we gotta wear shades, right?”

No response to my Timbuk 3 1980’s song forever lost in time, but it was time for me to head out. Or wake up.

“Are you still there?”

Nothing. He was no longer there, whoever he was, or wasn’t. Nothing left but ocean sounds. I left for the airport.

Of course this was all a self-fulfilling prophecy; a forward-thinking daydream fantasy of what I hope the world and the workplace become someday for my children, and how they might help transform it.

Something much more remarkable than today. Yes, it has been something that weighs on me, but the good news is that diversity and inclusion are hot topics today and rightly so. Hopefully this all becomes the road to remarkable.

Bersin by Deloitte research shows that 71% of companies “aspire to be fully inclusive.” However, when you look at what actually is practiced, only 11% truly demonstrate an inclusive culture, of embracing being yourself and really bring your “authentic self” to work every single day, wherever and whatever that work is.

And that means for men and women alike. Unfortunately gender equality for women has a ways to go, and implementing a diversity and inclusion strategy to improve the landscape is still in the early days. Having two girls has given my wife and I front row seats to this disparity show and how pervasive bias is, but change is in play, however painful and slow.

According to “What Is the Impact of Gender Diversity on Technology Business Performance?” report from the National Center for Women & Information Technology, a teams’ collective intelligence rose with the number of women in the group, possibly because of the women’s higher performance on tasks that required social sensitivity. Plus, Gallup research shows that women leaders tend to have significantly happier, more highly engaged teams.

PwC’s 2015 CEO Survey revealed that overall talent diversity and inclusiveness are not just the softer issues only given lip service, but instead are now considered crucial to being competitive. Of the CEOs whose companies have a formal diversity and inclusiveness strategy, 85% think it’s improved their bottom line. They also see such strategies as benefiting innovation, collaboration, customer satisfaction, emerging customer needs and the ability to benefit technology.

I’ll be at our PeopleFluent WISDOM 2015 customer conference this week and am proud of the fact that helping customers leverage diversity and inclusion programs is a top priority of ours. This and facilitating equal employment practices and compliance at every stage of the talent management lifecycle that create and sustain high-performing workforces.

Among many other powerful speakers and sessions, Dr. David Rock, the director of the NeuroLeadership Institute, will keynote our conference and speak about “Breaking Bias: Why Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives Are Good Business.” Companies everywhere are struggling to significantly move the needle on the diversity and inclusion challenge, and Dr. Rock’s research suggests how exploring the biology of bias will help us ultimately and authentically mitigate it at a whole new level.

Lastly, I did actually talk with the future recently on the TalentCulture #TChat Show, about 18 hours into the future to be exact (from one time zone to another across the Pacific). It was with Mandy Johnson, best-selling business author of Family Village Tribe and Winning the War For Talent, and an active speaker, advisor and executive educator. Mandy lives in Australia and discussed with us her “Six Steps To Building A Remarkable Workplace,” the first of which includes having CEO buy-in and HR champions prioritizing and supporting people-centric initiatives.

These initiatives, which include diversity and inclusion programs, not only drive our better halves when it comes to organizational change and positive business outcomes through intelligent and transparent HR practices, they also drive the road to remarkable for both genders and generations to come.

About the Author: Kevin W. Grossman co-founded and co-hosts the highly popular weekly TalentCulture #TChat Show with Meghan M. Biro. He’s also currently the Product Marketing Director for Total Talent Acquisition products at PeopleFluent.

Photo courtesy of Kevin W. Grossman