Female leadership and diversity fuel tomorrow’s innovations

Companies can’t maximize innovation or design products for a diverse population without improving gender diversity. Here’s how increasing gender diversity provides new viewpoints and solutions to drive business value.

ARTICLE | 5m read
March 8, 2021
By: Alysia Eve

The Covid-19 pandemic touched every part of daily life and drove many permanent shifts in our culture. But not all segments of society are being equally affected. With mounting uncertainty around childcare and caregiving needs, women left the workforce at 4 times the rate as men. This presents a huge loss to organizations, threatening to stifle innovation and business value as well as impact women in leadership positions for years to come.

As the pandemic recovery unfolds, companies must invest in purposeful, impactful and continuous innovation to accelerate their business. They need to deliver tangible value to customers in order to differentiate and quickly capitalize on market opportunities. This level of flexibility requires innovation and experimentation to be built into the organizational structure, incorporating discovery and implementation across functions and teams. It also requires an expansive set of perspectives and experience in bringing new ideas that represent a variety of voices in the market. In short, companies must focus on bringing women back into the workforce and accelerating their promotion into leadership roles to increase innovation and, ultimately, profitability.

Why gender diversity in the workplace boosts business value

In an increasingly competitive labor market and economic climate, gender diversity is strongly linked with business value. Companies with more women in executive leadership are 15 percent more likely to have greater than average profits. In addition, companies with greater gender diversity experience a significant advantage on long-term value creation. Companies who more accurately represent the population attract better talent, have higher employee satisfaction, and provide a better customer experience, which all build a solid foundation for culture and employee experience. 

But business value and profitability are not the only positive impact of having a greater number of women in an organization. A diverse team spurs the innovation that leads to disruptive ideas. Women adapt to and encourage change, helping organizations uncover and take advantage of new opportunities. 

“When you have a diverse team, you have members bringing different perspectives and experiences that will help you achieve two things, which results in faster resolution and quicker adoption: First, you can look at all aspects of an issue and make sure the solution is complete; second, diversity of experience and thought makes the solution move intuitive and innovative,” said Meerah Rajavel, CIO at Citrix.

Customer empathy drives innovation, and women excel at empathy

Understanding customers and the job they need your product to do is the foundation of effective innovation. Women tend to be more empathetic and able to identify needs and what customers value. By better understanding customers, women can identify opportunities to improve their experience and the product. As Rajavel said, “About 50% of the workforce is women, so it is crucial to take into account when we design a solution that it’s efficient for all. Citrix’s solution target is focused on employee experience, and as CIO I am keen on having the insights of both genders in our design and delivery process.”

ABOUT 50% OF THE WORKFORCE IS WOMEN, SO IT IS CRUCIAL TO TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHEN WE DESIGN A SOLUTION THAT IT’S EFFICIENT FOR ALL.

 

Meerah Rejavel
CIO
Citrix 

To maximize the value women’s views and talents can bring to an organization, everyone at an organization must understand the importance of gender diversity. While HR leaders have a special role to play in answering the diversity demand, every employee can benefit from embracing gender diversity. Having different perspectives involved in every conversation leads to a better, more holistic outcome. In fact, incorporating the need for women’s voices into the fabric of work culture also helps organizations realize improved productivity.

Building a gender-diverse workforce means embracing flexible work styles

Providing flexibility on when and how work gets done not only benefits parents, but is also becoming a requirement for many knowledge workers. Because technology is key to flexible work, organizations need to invest in technologies that enable employees to be productive and secure on any device anywhere in the world.

It also requires designing a recruitment and hiring strategy focused on finding and attracting diverse talent. While this can seem daunting, there are immediately executable practices that can make a real difference.

“First, we need to write our job descriptions in a way that doesn’t have unconscious bias built into them. Otherwise people self-select out before they even apply. Second, when working with talent acquisition as hiring managers, we need to feel like we aren’t done until we have a qualified candidate come into the interviewing process who is bringing diversity to the table. Finally, we need to have diverse interview panels that bring different perspectives on candidates, relative strengths, weaknesses and the ability to do the job.” Andrea Canavan, Vice President of Global Sales Enablement at Citrix.

WE NEED TO HAVE DIVERSE INTERVIEW PANELS THAT BRING DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON CANDIDATES, RELATIVE STRENGTHS, WEAKNESSES AND THE ABILITY TO DO THE JOB.

 

Andrea Canavan
VP, Global Sales Enablement
Citrix 

Hiring managers also need to think through the skills they are looking for and not necessarily specific experiences. This requires moving beyond simply listing qualifications to develop a deep understanding of the needs of the team and the organization to generate success. By focusing on relevant transferable experience, managers get away from focusing on previous job titles and specific responsibilities.

To capture every opportunity to thrive and survive in a challenging market, organizations need to design a culture that supports women. By ensuring everyone understands the importance of diversity, encouraging flexible work styles, and building recruitment and hiring strategies that maximize the variety of applicants, organizations can realize the powerful business value and innovation women provide.

About the author

Alysia Eve

Alysia is the Director of Product Marketing for Citrix, leading the go-to-market strategy and execution for the Citrix Workspace product. A passionate storyteller, Alysia specializes in understanding the value her products and services deliver to customers and developing successful marketing strategies to communicate to target market segments.

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