Remember Mad Men, the popular TV drama show, set in the backdrop of a New York-based ad agency in the early 1960s? The series gives you a clear picture of the '60s—a decade of cultural and societal changes, with women joining the workforce in droves. Their one-point agenda: to dismantle workplace inequality.
So why is it so important to include women in the workforce? Inclusivity fuels diversity of thought, and brings experience and perspective, thus driving an organisation's success. In today's disrupted times of ever-changing consumer expectations, the key to success lies in breakthrough thinking which can only come from a multifaceted and diverse talent mix.
Inclusivity fuels diversity of thought, and brings experience and perspective, thus driving an organisation's success.
According to a McKinsey Global Institute study, by 2025, $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by advancing women's equality. Better gender parity is imperative to drive equal participation from women, which will then translate into significant economic, human and social benefits in the economy.
Let's face it: many women choose to step off the career ladder, often for familial reasons like marriage, childbirth or childcare. However, ever-adept at playing contrasting roles, they secretly harbour the dream of returning to work after the hiatus. A KPMG study reveals that globally, an estimated 96 million skilled women aged between 30 and 54 are on career breaks.
Women who decide to exit the workforce and then later try to rejoin, find themselves staring at a wall of challenges. Poor perception of the likelihood of success. Wondering if the shelf-life of their skills has expired. Time management. Work-family role balance.
There couldn't be a better time to wake up to the positive side of taking a work sabbatical. Women should think of it as the perfect opportunity to acquire and hone new work skills and perspectives, which could be of immense value to the organisation they return to. They could use this time away to learn life-skills like patience, maturity, multi-tasking—all essential for growth and success in the workplace.
This is precisely where women returnee programs come into play. Global MNCs are using such programs as tools to cater to the needs of their women workforce. They are designed to provide flexibility and the opportunity for women returnees to recreate their niche in the professional world.
Recent studies show that women tend to be better leaders than their male counterparts.
There are reasons galore for organisations to drive such programs. Recent Deloitte Australia research reveals that inclusivity is the new recipe to improve business performance. Inclusive teams that embraced diversity outclassed their peers by 80% in team-based assessments. Inclusion endorses significant effectiveness and drives value, respect, fairness and belongingness. Recent studies show that women tend to be better leaders than their male counterparts. Women's higher engagement levels are likely to result in more involved, higher-performing teams within the organisation.
Companies, worldwide, are unveiling a slew of new initiatives under training programs, employee resource groups and nominations to offer greater flexibility, mentoring, and leverage women's skills and capabilities. In fact, most technology companies are purpose-building their talent policies to enable human potential and harness the power of women in their talent force. Such practices reflect a level of support that's critical in driving robust work-life integration and creating a win-win opportunity for catalysts involved in making potent talent come back into the mainstream.