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SUCCESS STRATEGIES

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					                             SUCCESS STRATEGIES
(Extract from Chief Executives Unplugged: Business Leaders Get Real About Women
                                in the Workplace)


So what have we gleaned from the experiences of 10 very different organisational leaders?
The key learnings articulated by these chief executives comprise the ideal ‘map’ for any
business leader serious about embarking on a similar journey.


1. Take responsibility. When it comes to changing an organisation’s mindset about
   women in the workplace, it is the CEO who must take charge. Consequently, diversity is
   an issue a leader cannot—and should not—delegate. The HR manager, a diversity
   taskforce or anyone else for that matter cannot shoulder the entire responsibility for
   culture change. To transform outdated thinking and behaviour, the impetus must
   originate from the top.

2. Be intellectually curious. Organisational leaders need to ask a lot of questions. It is
   important that they are across their workforce gender statistics so that they can weigh up
   what the ratios are costing them in terms of lost potential. Also, it’s critical that leaders
   converse with female employees at every level and hear for themselves how subversively
   and subtly the workplace is stacked in favour of men. Once a CEO truly ‘gets’ the issues
   at a profound level, the journey really begins.

3. Articulate the vision and strategy. It is critical that a CEO communicates to the entire
   workforce the degree of corporate commitment to ‘a level playing field’ where both men
   and women can advance without barriers within the organisation. CEOs need also to
   make managers accountable for linking diversity strategies to achieving outcomes—
   ‘what gets measured, gets done’—and set female targets (not quotas) for roles across
   the board.

4. Take the same risks with women. To signal culture change, a CEO needs to be
   fearless in appointing women for the first time to positions formerly never considered
   female-friendly. Instigating and championing ‘breakthrough’ appointments, they must
   also be seen to support these appointments through good and bad. It is also important to
   support employees in those roles in the same way that men are mentored and supported.

5. Personally manage the backlash from both men and women. Typically, when
   initiatives are proactively encouraged from the highest echelons, there are both women
   and men who react to the new vision. Again, it is the CEO who must take charge and
   show the way in terms of articulating and role modelling the organisation’s seriousness of
   intent to transform thinking and behaviour.

6. Think creatively about career pathways. For the leaders of the future, career
   progression has moved into a new paradigm where emphasis is on performance and
   outcomes. Instead of saying something is not possible, a CEO asks, ‘how can we do it?’
   and by dint of company processes enables women to move upward and across in ways
   and roles previously considered impossible. At Alcoa, for example, the female legal
   counsel was appointed to a critical line role, signalling the company’s commitment to
   women advancing in a variety of roles, positions and sectors.

7. Appoint women to non-traditional and line roles. There is no quicker or more
   effective way of signalling culture change than to appoint a woman to a non-traditional or
   line role—preferably both. Instead of women remaining in the lower-paid administrative
   and support roles, the CEOs interviewed in this book have found that women can just as
   effectively run bauxite mines or head IT divisions.
8. Personally role model work flexibility. Most savvy business leaders know intuitively
   that employees appreciate working for a company that has in place work/life strategies.
   But how many men would dare take advantage of a company’s parental leave policies?
   And how many managers (of either sex) who elect to work part-time would expect their
   future promotional chances to remain uncompromised? If a CEO signals that it’s okay to
   work and have a life, organisational policies begin to come to life—and people start to
   focus on the goals kicked rather than hours logged. But it needs a courageous, people-
   focused leader!

9. Display zero tolerance for any female-unfriendly behaviour. Men who refer to
   mature female colleagues as ‘girls’ need to know that such epithets are inappropriate in
   the workplace. Similarly, meetings rostered at times when women are typically compelled
   to perform family duties are not appropriate either. Brainstorming work ideas down at
   the pub or networking with clients at a men’s golf day, or anything that excludes one
   gender from participating in work business should be stamped out—and it should be the
   CEO who makes it clear such behaviour will not be tolerated. Similarly, sexual innuendo,
   bullying or any other form of harassment should also be dealt with swiftly and punitively
   with commitment and support from the highest echelons.

10. The cost is small, the return on investment huge. Some business leaders believe
    that advancing women in the workplace is going to cost them money. Simply put, they’re
    wrong! Many CEOs point out that the cost of diversity strategies is surprisingly minimal;
    furthermore, it costs too much not to do it. Other CEOs point out how much they get in
    return in terms of investing in their people. With one voice, each of the CEOs interviewed
    in this book attribute their people-focused strategies as a significant contributor to their
    greater business success.


                                           ENDS

				
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