Advancing the organization’s workforce strategies, including diversity goals and recruiting and retention practices, should be measured, reported, and communicated across the organization. Leaders who support and drive transformational opportunities, even by creating nontraditional paths to leadership, may help their organizations become highly sought-after employers.
Providing a global view into women’s opinions about gender diversity within their own organizations since the beginning of the pandemic, Deloitte Global’s 2022 Women at Work study revealed that only 16% of financial services respondents say their organization communicates on gender diversity targets and only 24% feel their organization’s leadership is gender diverse. That said, 55% of respondents also feel their organization’s commitment to supporting women has increased during the pandemic.37
Employers can address these issues head-on by regularly communicating internally and externally on the importance of gender diversity, the actions they are taking, and the progress they’ve made. This may help reverse some of these indicators and contribute to higher employee retention rates. An encouraging key finding of the study that transcended geography, industries, and demographics: When women experience a truly respectful and inclusive workplace culture, they are more engaged, productive, and loyal to their organizations.38
Suppliers, alliance partners, and investors are increasingly focused on enhancing women’s representation on boards and in executive leadership, improving transparency in DEI efforts, and designating accountability for gender equity outcomes.39 Deloitte’s Global 2022 Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) Survey reports that 56% of corporate purpose efforts are related to DEI, yet only 32% of the respondent CSOs say executive compensation was tied to purpose priorities, such as environmental, social, and governance (ESG).40 Clearly, organizations have an opportunity to close the gap between efforts and accountability.
In a recent study of institutional investors, more than 70% of respondents indicated their firms apply exclusionary screening based on a company’s diversity metrics.41 And 69% reported that diversity within a company’s board has a significant impact on their trust in the organization. Among US respondents, 66% indicated a high level of trust is needed to attract and retain top talent and 74% said a company’s ability to attract top talent is more important in winning their trust than securing new customers or increasing a valuation multiple.42
The challenges in addressing the expectations and requirements across marketplace stakeholders are multifaceted; they will require organizations to work with stakeholders to prioritize gender equity across the marketplace.
An organization’s corporate social purpose can build brand and reputation; attract and retain talent;43 and, if well-defined, can create opportunities to advocate for and drive political and social change.
Public policy is playing a greater role in setting targets and diversity requirements for public and private institutions around the world. In some locations, legislative actions have resulted in more women in leadership roles; in others, self-imposed targets have achieved similar results. There simply isn’t a one-size-fits-all path toward achieving greater gender equity. Yet, organizations that work collaboratively with their stakeholders to prioritize and advance gender equity within their organizations can help to influence public policy, shape or reshape cultural norms, and differentiate themselves as equitable organizations across their workforce, the marketplace, and society.