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The Time is Now to Get the "Women Thing" Right in Business

Feb 22, 2017

There's been a lot of discussion about the lack of women leaders in business--especially Silicon Valley--over the past few years.  

The latest scandal involving Uber and its mistreatment of women employees is a pretty stark example of how ignoring "the elephant in the room" can create a business crisis.

 Uber's approach to dealing with it is all too familiar, however. Only after an employee made things public were her complaints taken seriously. 

CEO Travis Kalanick wrote, "It's the first time this has come to my attention so I have instructed Liane Hornsey our new Chief Human Resources Officer to conduct an urgent investigation into these allegations." 

Instructing the new female head of HR to conduct an urgent investigation of what happened doesn't quite pass the sniff test.  No one I've spoken with about this was at all surprised to hear this about Uber.  

The bigger point is this--companies are leaving opportunity on the table by not creating diverse and inclusive leadership teams.  Our world, our employees, our customers are diverse. In the age of social media, not being respectful and inclusive is just bad business. 

The business case for having a more diverse leadership team and board of directors is well documented by McKinsey, Catalyst, and others. Companies with more women in leadership positions and greater overall gender balance perform better financially than those with less.  

This is a business opportunity plain and simple. 

For years, companies have had employee resource groups, held women's conferences, and similar measures, but the statistics on women in leadership roles haven't changed.

It's time for a new approach. This isn't a niche issue. This is a mainstream, pragmatic business challenge. 

Let's take it seriously and engage in joint problem solving and skill building--among women and men--to fix it. 


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