Girl Power: Women Can Help Beat the Competition

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  • #120879

    Shannon Kennedy

    I thought I’d share this very interesting and inspiring blog which was originally posted by Anne Weisberg in the Deloitte Perspectives Blog.


    How women can help you beat the competition

    Are you looking for your next growth area? What are your plans to beat your competition? Come to think of it, what business exactly are you in? If your answer to any of these questions isn’t talent, then you are running the risk of being left behind. Why? Because growth and competitive advantage will come from innovation and creativity in the 21st century.

    As John Hagel III, co-founder of the Deloitte U.S. Center for the Edge, says, “companies must truly become talent-driven firms.” Yet most today are underutilizing, and often downright ignoring, half of their talent pool—their women. Or, put another way, investing in women—both as workers and as consumers—is one of the best levers for creating competitive advantage.

    Let’s take women as workers—talented workers—first. Today’s economic realities—from the shrinking taxable workforce in many countries to the importance of critical-thinking, analytical, and decision-making skills in the digital economy—underlie why talent is becoming the most valuable resource for nations and businesses alike. And women not only make up roughly half of the workforce in most of the world, but they are graduating college at higher rates than men in many countries. The World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Index shows that the educational attainment gap has almost disappeared. But that is not translating into women being retained, developed, and advanced in the workforce. In fact, those numbers are dismal. There has been no change in the percentage of women in senior management among the Fortune 500® for almost a decade1. In Europe, where women make up more than half of college graduates and 45 percent of the workforce, they are a measly 11 percent of corporate executives2. These numbers mean that the pipeline to the top either leaks women—or that they are getting stuck.

    Either way, it’s not good for the bottom line. Churn has a steep price: a conservative estimate of the cost of turnover for knowledge workers ranges is 200 percent of salary. But that may not be the biggest cost to your business. Evidence is mounting that gender diversity (and diversity in general) at the top delivers better business results. Today, Fortune 500® companies in the top quartile when it comes to women’s representation on their boards outperform those in the lowest quartile by at least 53 percent on return on equity3. And in Europe, of 89 publicly traded companies with a market capitalization of over 150 million pounds, those with more women in senior management and board members had, on average, more than a 10 percent higher return on equity than those companies with the least percentage of women in leadership4. Women bring their experiences, perspectives, and approaches to decision making, making it more robust.

    But that’s not all—because the other half of creating competitive advantage is to understand the power of women as consumers. Women are not a niche group—they are the market. Already, women control roughly US$20 trillion of total consumer spending globally, and that number is predicted to rise to US$28 trillion by 20145. And women either make or influence up to 80 percent of buying decisions, on everything from appliances to cars and medical services6. This is not a consumer segment that businesses can afford to ignore—and those with more women in management are in a stronger position to understand and market to this population.

    The bottom line—and that is what this is all about—is that there is a Gender Dividend to be reaped by any company or country that invests in women. But that doesn’t mean businesses are doing all they can to take advantage of it. For many, promoting women is still a “soft” issue—not a business imperative. They have not figured out the cold, hard fact that not capitalizing on women as workers and consumers is holding their businesses back. Which means that if you build your business case for the Gender Dividend, it just might help you beat the competition.


    I found it very interesting that women influence up to 80% of buying decisions. The post makes a great point that women are not a niche, but a target market.

    What are your thoughts? What about this stood out to you the most?

  • #120881


    That’s really interesting but women aren’t just buying products. They’re managing talent. So in the interest of supporting girl power, here are some tips for managers of staff wondering…should I stay or should I go? I’m crossing posting this at GovLearning.


    With the freeze of pay in the air, there are sure to be federal employees – particularly soon to be retirees- asking the question (or humming The Clash,) Should I stay or should I go?

    Managers should not give up hope. Today in their joint “Keeping Talent” report, the Partnership for Public Service and Booze Allen Hamilton offer some strategies because: “Keeping the right talent, those who are motivated and have the skills that match job requirements, is potentially more critical than ever for federal agencies to perform at a high level and to meet the needs of the American public.”

    Furthermore, you can forget being able to fill their jobs if a hiring freeze is enacted.

    In an interview about the report on Federal News Radio

    Today Ron Sanders, the Senior Executive Advisor for Booz Allen Hamilton and Former Chief Human Capital Officer at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and, of course, a member of ASTD’s board of directors, said public managers can not only compete with the private sector on the intangibles. He says they can trump it. Managers must remember to:

    • Connect with employees and tie their individual work to the larger agency mission
    • Reward employees who perform well
    • Invest in supervisors so that they develop leadership skills
    • Make accountable employees who underperform

    Be armed against attrition. Managers should utilize social media and other tools to share organizational values, empower and engage their best leaders and enhance communication. That way people will “stay, just a little bit longer” or, perhaps, make a career of public service.

    “Keeping Talent” notes that there are significant consequences to attrition:

    “[T]he loss of significant and specialized knowledge and experience which can be difficult or impossible to replace. Consider, for example, the cost and feasibility of replacing a senior cancer researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), or a cybersecurity expert at the National Security Agency (NSA), or a retiring chief meteorologist at the National Hurricane Center. Good employees [also] may leave behind demoralized co-workers—a deterioration of employee commitment and organizational loyalty.”

    More on all of this in, in the Employee Engagement Report at and also from our friends in North Carolina at the Center for Creative Leadership –

    Tell us what’s keeping you in your job today.

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