HR Girl Power in 2019

Kathy Rapp A.I., Career Advice, Change, Change Management, Communication, Corporate America, Culture, Current Affairs, Diversity, Driving Productivity, Employee Development, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, Harassment, Hiring Bias, HR, in the news, Kathy Rapp, Leadership, Learning and Development, Performance, Recruiting, Sexual Harassment, Succession Planning, Talent Management, Women, Women in the Workplace

Ariana Grande proclaimed “God is a Woman,” Keith Urban sang about “Female,” and Jesse J begged girls to feel elevated and say “I am a Queen.”

Fearless Girl is on the move to the NY Stock Exchange; Sheryl Sandberg focused headlines read “Fall from Grace” for her part in Facebook’s mishaps, and a new study shows a 51% wage gap between men and women between 2001 and 2015.

These girl empowerment songs alongside a sampling of headlines in the past week show the remaining conflict in gender conversations. As we begin to close out 2018, what’s next for women, specifically in corporate America, and what does this explosion of female focus mean for our HR leaders in 2019?

Let’s see:

  • Diversity & Inclusion initiatives are hot (once again)
  • Compensation work to close the gender pay gap
  • Recruiting of female Board members
  • Succession plans to ensure female representation at the executive level
  • Corporate giving focus on diverse associations
  • Revamped anti-harassment training and no excuses for violators
  • Ensuring hiring biases are reduced/eliminated (I’m talking to you AI)
  • Development programs focused on women
  • Inclusive family leave policies reducing the traditional time-away from work for moms only
  • Review of all things culture (rip down those outdated mission & value statements)

This is nowhere near an all-inclusive list–and changes will require multi-faceted solutions, often propelled by current male-dominated leadership.

Which leads me to the HBR article about a study done at West Point during the early 1980s which demonstrated the importance of women helping women succeed.

It found, “when another woman was added to a company, it increased the likelihood a woman would progress from year to year. Women in first-year groups with only one other woman only had a 55% chance of sticking around for the next year. But women in the most women-heavy groups, with 6 to 9 other women, had an 83% chance of continuing to the next year.”

The study also indicated women’s increased likelihood of progress did not make their male peers less likely to succeed.  “In other words,” the researchers write, “there was only an upside to increasing the number of women in the group.

West Point first allowed women in 1976, and there has been a significant change for women since then. The incoming class of 2020 is 22% women. How does this translate to corporate America?  It demonstrates paying attention to gender when assigning women to groups “can be a powerful tool for increasing the representation of women in male-dominated fields.” It shows, again, the value of a gender-diverse workforce and the increased importance of ensuring women are helping women.

Lastly (my opinion), we need to be a significant part of shepherding our daughters’ success now, before they get their first corporate gig. That involves supporting girl-led and girl-focused programs, like Girl Scouts, changing the dating app hook-up culture creating disposable and toxic relationships, and ensuring social media and entertainment mediums are focused on building our girls up.

Onward to 2019 – and I’m looking forward to fewer conflicting gender-focused headlines as HR leads the way to ensure progress on these important priorities for their organizations.