As women we have a habit of underestimating ourselves. If we are asked what we bring to the table and measure that response against that of men, our scores are automatically lower than those of our male counterparts. It is important for women to understand that we are half of the workforce and we are talented, worthy, and capable of being successful CEOs, executives, and leaders, running for office, and starting our own companies. However, what’s missing? What is keeping us behind? Is it society or is it ourselves? Research points to various factors, however, my professional belief is that leadership and business coaching services are the most beneficial service for women in business. Where does gender equality fit into all of this?
The Power of Parity
According to McKinsey, the United States could add up to $4.3 trillion in annual GDP in 2025 if women attain full gender equality. According to this report, it was found that each state and city can add at least five percent to their GDP by advancing the economic potential of women. Half of the states within the United States have the ability to add more than ten percent. The nation’s 50 largest cities have the capability to increase the GDP by 6 to 13 percent. This would require a capital investment of approximately $475 billion in 2025, which would help create the 6.4 million jobs necessary to secure the boost to the GDP and advance productivity.
The barriers that hinder women cannot be solved solely by business and leadership coaching, however, these types of services can empower women to be inspired to take more risks and fully participate within the labor market. By doing so, it positively impacts economic and social equality for women and families worldwide. In addition, it benefits businesses as well. I also do not believe that gender equality can be solved solely by a large capital investment because we need an adequate understanding of any skills gaps, leadership disparities, cultural and social differences and variations that we can change or overcome. It has been proven that inequality is high within leadership and managerial positions, political representation, amongst other types.
Parity and Diversity in Business
Parity is one of the most important concepts in business because it is important to clients and critical to successfully selling products and services. Your workforce is a representation of your business, your brand, your service, and products. A diverse workforce delivers a variety of thought, business concepts, problem-solving skills, and creates a more competitive and successful organization. Diversity creates increased adaptability. This is because organizations that employ a more diverse workforce deliver a greater variety of solutions to issues within products and service, allocation of resources, and sourcing. Those employees from diverse backgrounds bring their individual talents and experiences, particularly in suggesting ideas that are flexible in adapting to fluctuating client demands and markets. These diverse skills and experiences also enable businesses to provide services globally. A broader service range increases opportunities and profits. It also offers a variety of viewpoints, which benefits strategic business requirements and those of clients more effectively and efficiently. Organizations that support diversity and inclusion efforts, including those through hiring and engagement programs encourages performance to its highest abilities. Business-wide strategies can be executed, which increases levels of productivity, income, and the ROI.
Diversity is now becoming a business necessity rather just than a goal to achieve. Diversity also creates:
- Mutual Respect: It does not matter if employees work in teams or solo, colleagues who represent different cultures or generations, a synergistic work environment has become the norm.
- Conflict Resolution: Conflict is inevitable. However, how it is handled and dealt with can make or break workplace culture. However, employees that can recognize others’ differences oftentimes can also acknowledge their similarities, specifically when there are common objectives. Respect for co-workers either reduces the likelihood of conflict or facilitates the ability to resolve it more quickly. The ability for quick conflict resolution minimizes any potential liabilities for employee complaints and formal matters or litigation to be handled. One of the objectives of workplace diversity is to preserve the quality of relationships of co-workers and their supervisors and with that of their peers.
- Business Reputation: Diversity within the workplace manifests itself in building a great reputation for the organization, which leads to increased profitability and opportunities for employees. Business reputations flourish when organizations demonstrate their commitment to diversity and inclusion efforts, such as those through outreach and recruiting. Ethics is a major component of an organization’s reputation. This also includes their employment practices and appreciation for a diverse talent, which enhances their ability to attract a wider pool of qualified applicants. In addition, some clients and customers choose to solely do business with companies whose business practices are socially and morally responsible.
- Job Promotion: Workplace diversity has significant impacts on the ability to reach markets in foreign nations. This global marketplace opens doors for those employees who possess diverse language skills and a multicultural understanding to build global profit centers. It also opens up the possibility for new career opportunities for those who wish to work in a different nation, even for the short-term.
- Increased Exposure: A diverse workplace offers the opportunity for employees to learn from co-workers different working styles and attitudes. This is also true for those with multigenerational work environments. Skills, especially those of technology, can be learned. More assertive, go-getter type of attitudes can also be learned.
What Role Does Coaching Play?
Coaching plays a very large role in this. Parity and diversity can be achieved within the workplace if we continue to deliver the skills necessary to women. Assertiveness and go-getter attitudes are not essentially learned very quickly. Most women who are not self-confident or do not possess a go-getter attitude, have been predisposed to reasons to make them feel that way or maintain traditional cultural and social beliefs that women should not be as self-assured as men. Coaching can boost confidence for women and put forward how to uncover:
- Purpose: This uncovers your values, passions, and motivation to create the life that you desire.
- Power: This is important because we need to stop fighting the world and ourselves. If we do not possess and display self-confidence, then we cannot lead ourselves or others mindfully and consciously.
- Reality: Coaching can identify the truth of who you are personally and professionally. It can also help rid your life from the blocks that prevent you from being who you are meant to be.
- Relationships: Coaching helps you develop the ability to connect with yourself and others in all areas of your life.
- Authority: You will learn how to take command of your life and make clear decisions more effectively.
- Courage: This is how you use your strength to take action in the face of fear. Coaching enhances this ability because you learn to rely on your own instincts, leadership, and problem-solving skills.
- Authenticity: This is the practice of living your truths daily, not just knowing or believing them but acting on them.
Coaching delivers the proficiencies necessary for women to have the confidence, skills, and courage to apply for leadership and managerial positions and run for office. Organizations are now considering diversity as an ideal business practice, however, we cannot have diversity without gender equality. We need to continue to capitalize on the services that can provide and drive us towards a more gender equal and diverse society. The best analogy that I heard describing the business case for diversity and inclusion was that diversity and inclusion are different cars headed to the same destination, parity and equality. We can only arrive at that destination if we begin to change our thoughts, processes, policies, and cultural and social norms, including our business practices and developing services that specifically enhance the skills and talents of women.