Orange Grove Consulting Managing Partner Jodi Detjen was recently quoted in a Boston Globe article about getting women into the top ranks of leadership.
In the article, Jodi says that, “commitments to increase leadership consist of, say, sending employees to the Massachusetts Conference for Women. Instead, firms should be taking a more strategic approach, such as revamping performance reviews and tracking promotions by gender.”
In the following Q&A, Jodi elaborates further on how organizations can take a more strategic approach to gender equality.
Q. How do you revamp performance reviews?
A. Jodi Detjen
When we look at how women are evaluated compared to men, research suggests that women are six times more likely to be described negatively. We also know from other recent research that we aren’t very good overall at identifying what makes an effective leader. Instead, what we need to do is bring more objectivity into it. Instead of promoting someone because they asked, we define ahead of time what is most important to the business and then evaluate people based on those performance criteria. We need to sample performance reviews and identify where there is bias. Then we need to train people to evaluate more objectively.
By the way, as companies look to replace annual reviews with more informal coaching, this unfair evaluation is more likely to increase and there won’t be a record of it.
Q. What are the barriers to tracking promotions by gender?
A. Jodi Detjen
Let me clarify that we don’t believe there are barriers to tracking promotions. Measuring velocity of promotions is simply a matter of measuring where people start and where they end up. It’s another business indicator. Additionally, there’s an assumption that tracking by gender or ethnicity is equivalent to affirmative action. We are not suggesting to force a certain number of women into a role. What we are saying is to track who gets promoted by department, by level, and by position. This process brings transparency to where the velocity of women’s promotions slows down and then we can target strategies to remove bias in those areas.
Q. You say companies that don’t make a serious commitment to diversity will soon be struggling to attract younger employees. Why is that true?
A. Jodi Detjen
Gen Z is the most diverse workplace yet. Gen Z and millennials want diversity in the workplace. They want to work with people that come from different perspectives and backgrounds. And they are making decisions about where to work based on this. So this is simply a talent issue. If you want to be competitive in hiring, figure out how to create a more inclusive culture.
Q. The article mentions major firms such as the investment bank Goldman Sachs, which pledged in March that half of all new analysts and entry-level employees would be women. The consulting giant Accenture previously announced a goal to have a workforce with a 50-50 gender balance by 2025, with women making up a quarter of its managing directors by 2020.
Don’t we need quotas to achieve these goals? Are these targets fair to men?
A. Jodi Detjen
I’m not a fan of quotas in the traditional sense. I’m a fan of operational targets. We have business targets for every other area of strategic importance. Why wouldn’t we have targets in this arena? A target is different from a quota. Quotas imply punishment. A target is a goal you are striving to achieve. People provide support around that goal and it’s more of a learning mindset. So if there’s a leader who struggles to provide opportunities for diverse talent, then that leader can get coached and trained on how to improve.
I simply don’t see how this is unfair to men. No one ever said anything about having a target for unqualified candidates. And aren’t we assuming that men are more qualified? When there’s so much research about how people want to promote people that are like them, I think we need to reflect on why there is so much fear around targets. All we’re saying is to create a target and have more transparency around the process. We may learn that we need to improve our approach.
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