How To Hire More Women Into The Boardroom (Other Than Quotas)

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By Jas Singh

After thousands of years of unequal pay, opportunity and career advancement finally the secret it out – more women in the boardroom not only is morally right, but leads to better company performance.

And so many companies have now created quotas for the minimum number of women on the boards of companies. Countries such as Germany have been pioneering this for some time.

In a resistant environment (i.e. us men wanting to cling on to power), rules such as quota’s are essential. However, as any school teacher will tell you – rules alone are never enough. Rules also need explaining, people need inspiring and cynics need to start believing.

Already some industries (such as banking) which are trying to move more women into boardroom positions have noticed an early teething problem. A lack of candidates. In such a male dominated industry there are simply not enough women around. Quotas are hard to fill.

Here are four things along with quotas that can help more women get into boardroom positions.

1) Start from day one

Leaders are not created by companies overnight. They take time to train, groom and develop the skill set required to represent the company at the highest level. Most board level candidates take on average between 15-20 years experience from entry level to gain the required level of competence.

Which is why most large businesses today have a massive problem. The issue isn’t necessarily purely hiring more women at board level – but also hiring more women at all levels – including graduate level.

Only by creating a consistent funnel of candidates can the leaders of tomorrow be found. Although most quotas are at senior management and board level, companies need to ensure that fair balance is achieved right from day one.

2) Celebrate and publicise the successes

So companies are hiring more women these days. Which is fantastic.

But can anyone tell me which companies have recently done this? Can anyone give me a famous example of a hire?

Unless this well overdue initiative is celebrated and well publicised, success will always be limited. For attitudes to change, change itself needs to be celebrated and supported. Girls and young women need to be inspired to follow careers in business. Experienced women need to start believing there is a fairer chance for them to gain equality and succeed.

Everything needs to be amplified in order to build momentum and achieve permanent change.

3) Educate the staff

Hiring more women in board level and senior management positions is not just about becoming fairer. Women have been shown to be more empathetic with team members, better collaborators, better at taking initiative and even better at coping with stress. Studies have even shown that more diverse teams approaching 50-50 male and female split even cause companies stock prices to perform better.

And these are not just one off studies. Establishments such as Harvard University, McKinsey and Goldman Sachs publish hundreds of tightly controlled research articles a year.

Obviously simply being male or female is not a precursor to success. It’s just one factor – either sex requires many other traits and skills in order to be successful.

But using research and data such as this is an essential first step. In order for change to be understood, applied and made permanent all guidelines need to be backed up by facts. Otherwise people will not see the benefits to themselves – the possibility to create a better working environment in which they and everyone else can thrive.

4) Create equality elsewhere as well

Ultimately hiring more women is all about equality. And a great way for leaders and companies to integrate this in the companies values is by creating equality in all areas – race, age, social upbringing and education.

Move the person from the international office to HQ to become your new COO. Give the youngster a chance if he has proved he is capable to perform. Hire the veteran even though you usually hire people straight out of university. Overlook the candidate hasn’t got a degree if he shows willingness and desire in the interview.

Just like in nature, diversity is often the essential ingredient for survival of the fittest. Look at most of the boards of the worlds truly successful companies at any time and they usually have a broad diversity of races, nationalities, experiences and education. Not to mention gender equality.

Gender equality is about fairness and the best way to influence others to think and behave more fairly is to become more fair in everything you do.

Conclusion

Quotas are a great way to get more women into the boardroom – and for businesses to perform better.

But quotas alone are not enough.

Hiring managers need to address gender equality with a variety of tools – each essential to make change smooth, productive and permanent.

How many women are on your board?

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