3 Big-Money Mistakes in Investing in Women

3 Big-Money Mistakes in Investing in Women

December 17, 2013
by Elizabeth Ruske | no comments

3 Big-Money Mistakes in Investing in Women

You might be ready to invest in women for ethical, social or cultural commitments. But the most important reasons you should invest in women leaders are related to your business’ bottom-line.  Even more critical for you to understand are the primary mistakes businesses are making, causing them to fail to get the return on investment that they should.

In case you need a reminder, here are the top business-related reasons to invest in your female talent:

Leadership Potential: Experts have predicted as the economy improves, so is the likelihood for your top talent to look for new opportunities. Are the talented women in your organization planning on leaving? They have natural leadership and management skills that are not yet being tapped because they have not positioned themselves visibly in the organization, and they don’t have influential sponsors and advocates. Passing over talented internal managers is costly.

Market Position: Economic demographics show that women make the vast majority of household purchasing decisions and comprise over 50% of the employee talent pool in most product and service areas, even those typically considered “male-dominated”. Investing in women in leadership roles, brainstorming meetings, focus groups, cross-functional teams, research and product development gives you a competitive advantage on several levels.

Effective Teamwork: Including diverse perspectives and skills on teams at all levels increases creativity, sound decision-making and the ability to achieve results that benefit the bottom line and more.

Being aware is only part of the equation. Your investment must be thoughtfully designed, measured and implemented for you to see a high rate of return.

Here are the top 3 ways companies waste the money they are spending on developing their female talent:

1. Giving Women Special Treatment. What is actually needed is a level playing field. All good leadership development and mentoring initiatives stem from that understanding, even if they are focused on women. By systemically and effectively  including women in leadership development and succession planning efforts, they earn their place at the top.

2. Checking The Box. It is imperative to link your investment in developing women to your business strategy. There should be real, visible results expected from this investment. If you are simply giving a small budget to lunch-and-learns and cocktail hours to check “women’s initiative” off your list, you are missing the point and the true return on your investment.

3. Not Walking The Walk. It is very easy for executives to talk about how much they support diversity and women’s leadership. But it’s much harder to make actual strides. If high-level executives do not visibly and thoughtfully invest in women, it won’t change a thing.

Here is one company that seems to be doing it right. General Motors has been in dire straits in past years. This month they took action by naming Mary Barra the new CEO in 2014. By giving her broad powers and a mandate to continue the positive momentum of the company, GM is showing how to properly invest in women. It’s not just Barra either. Among five senior VPs are  two more women: Melissa Howell (Human Resources) and Alicia Boler-Davis (Global Quality and Customer Experience). Congratulations to Mary Barra. We are looking forward to seeing how your leadership affects GM and the automotive industry.

Is your company smart about investing in women? Or are they falling into one of these pitfalls? 



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