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Women are better for business, says Booz & Co

Women are better for business, says Booz & Co

Educated and ambitious, the GCC’s female population is key to solving economic issues in the region. Booz & Co shows you the whys and how to get on the bandwagon.

January 29, 2012 2:56 by

Suppliers: Companies need women in the right roles to raise awareness about potential new suppliers, use their networks to build these relationships, and maintain the relationships over the long term. One company found annual cost savings of $2 million to $4 million when it focused on women-owned businesses by categorising all third-party orders and enhancing the competitiveness of each category.

If hopefully, you’re convinced of the need for a female presence in your office, the next thing you’ll want to know is where to find them.

FOUR ways to attract and retain the right female talent:
Talent acquisition: Companies should apply a unified process for attracting qualified talent from all available sources. This includes hiring entry-level candidates directly from the ranks of recent graduates of women’s colleges and vocational institutes. Another key channel for young talent is to sponsor students. Still another source, particularly for experienced professionals and managers, is the region’s recruiting firms.

The company should ensure the same clear objectives and criteria are used in recruiting women as in its usual recruiting process, and avoid making subjective judgments about, for example, a female candidate’s age or number of children. It should also seek to have strong female representation in recruiting to project an image of a company that fully embraces and values diversity.

Learning and development: In addition to recruiting and hiring female candidates, companies must implement a training program to develop women employees in technical areas and soft skills. Companies should consider a mentorship program that pairs less experienced staffers with more experienced women. In addition to serving as role models, the mentors would offer junior women an opportunity to share their concerns and issues.

Performance management: To support the integration of women into the workforce, companies must establish an objective system for evaluating their performance. This process needs to be clearly communicated and strictly implemented to ensure fairness. All scores should be objective and measurable, based on specific outcomes (such as turnover and employee satisfaction in the HR function, or sales numbers for the sales department), and the evaluation process should include multiple sources of input—e.g., managers, colleagues, and subordinates.

Although this is good practice for all employees, recent experience has shown that it is difficult to implement when evaluating women employees in a male-dominated environment. For example, in some job appraisals, women receive references to personality traits—they are “shy” or “emotional”—rather than specific descriptions of behaviors or quantitative assessments of their job impact. At other times appraisals may reflect an inherent, though unconscious, bias regarding women employees’ long-term commitment to the company in the context of family obligations.

Retention: Once the company has taken these measures to recruit, hire, develop, and evaluate the women in its workforce, it should devote equal effort to retaining women employees and ensure that they stay professionally fulfilled and motivated. This is critical, given the scarcity of skilled resources in the market and the investment that would be needed to hire and develop a new employee.

Booz & Co advocates a balance of traditional incentives and “pride builders,” or less quantifiable and concrete benefits. The first category, incentives, consists of fairly traditional HR levers: rewards such as compensation and benefits, opportunities for career advancement, and a work–life balance that offers sufficient flexibility to attend to personal obligations while also pursuing a career. The introduction of resources such as family-friendly policies would go a long way in helping retain talent: For example, employees may seek part-time work, or the opportunity to telecommute certain days or for a finite period of time, as long as the job’s requirements allow for it. (CONTINUED TO NEXT PAGE)

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