CIOs Need To Take Steps To Prevent Women From Leaving

If CIOs lose women from their team, then effectiveness will suffer
If CIOs lose women from their team, then effectiveness will suffer
Image Credit: Steve wilson

CIOs work very hard to build an IT department that can meet the company’s technology needs. Keeping the people that we’ve been able to recruit to our firm is almost a full time job. The recent Covid-19 pandemic turned just able everyone’s world upside down. Now CIOs are facing a new challenge: they may end up losing many of the women who are working in their departments. What steps can CIOs take in order to prevent this from happening?

Where Are The Women Going?

It turns out that four times as many women as men have dropped out of the labor force since the pandemic hit. The result of this is that many people are concerned that the coronavirus is undermining workplace equity. The latest research indicates that something else may also suffer damage over time: corporate effectiveness. These results are based on insights derived from a statistical model that gauges a company’s “effectiveness” – defined as “doing the right things well.” Last year, 820 large, publicly traded companies were evaluated through the lens of 34 indicators across five categories: customer satisfaction, employee engagement and development, social responsibility, innovation and financial strength. In order to be ranked, a company had to have at least two valid indicators for each of the five areas. In the end, six hundred and forty companies met this condition.

To produce the ranking, the corporations are compared in each of the five categories, as well as in their overall effectiveness, through standardized scores with a range of 0 to 100 and a mean of 50. In the most recent analysis, the 640 companies were grouped into quartiles, ranging from the highest-scoring firms to the lowest-scoring. The results of the percentage of C-suite executives and members of senior management who are women at the companies in each quartile were then examined based on gender-diversity data to see what, if any, pattern emerged.

In the end, the results couldn’t be clearer. On average, women make up 20.2% of the top executives among companies that scored in the highest quartile in terms of their total effectiveness. For companies who were in the second quartile, that number slips down to 17.5%. For those in the bottom third quartile, it’s even lower still, at 15.4%. Finally, at the companies that are least effective overall, an average of just 12% of executives are female. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to take a toll on the nation’s physical and economic health, women have found themselves bearing much of the hardship. Women have lost more jobs than men, and they’ve also had to shoulder an inordinate share of housework and family caregiving responsibilities.

What Women Are Doing

Right now more than one in four women now say they may quit or scale back their jobs. This is a trend that threatens the gender balance at all kinds of companies. Before the pandemic hit, the representation of women in corporate America was slowly trending in the right direction. However, if they are compelled to leave the workforce, then we’ll end up with far fewer women in leadership – and far fewer women on track to be future leaders. The result of this is that all the progress we’ve seen over the past five years would simply be erased. This could have implications for how well companies perform across a whole host of functions.

In fact, it has been discovered that companies in the highest quartile in each of our five categories have a far greater concentration of top women executives than do those businesses in the lowest quartile. The biggest spread is in the area of social responsibility. At firms that score in the highest quartile, an average of 22% of their top executives are women, compared with 10.9% for companies located in the bottom quartile. Women end up accounting for 19.8%, on average, of the most senior executives at corporations in the highest quartile when it comes to innovation. On the other hand, in the lowest quartile, the figure falls to 12.8%. The smallest gap is in the area of employee engagement and development. But it’s still significant. Among the companies who are in the highest quartile, 17.8% of their top executives are women vs. 14.7% of those in the bottom quartile.

There is no way to know for sure exactly why companies with more women at the top end up faring so well in every area of the ranking. However, the findings are very much in line with a rich body of scholarship highlighting the benefits to business of diversity. For example, researchers have shown that innovation increases as the proportion of female managers rises. It turns out that companies characterized by “gender diverse leadership teams” are more effective than other firms at pursuing environmentally friendly strategies. All of this suggests that CIOs would be wise to reach out to the women who work for them and find more ways to be supportive during this difficult time. Otherwise, the leaks in the talent pipeline may end up flooding every dimension of corporate performance.

What All Of This Means For You

There is no question that we are living in complicated times. Life was complicated, and then all of sudden we got hit with the pandemic. Women had been making good progress in moving to positions of more and more responsivity in the workplace over the past few years. The pandemic changed all of that. All of sudden, women are starting to leave the workforce. What this means for CIOs is that their organization is in the process of becoming less and less diverse. What should CIOs do to deal with this situation?

During the pandemic a lot of people dropped out of the workforce. However, women dropped out at a rate that was four times as great as men. This is a big deal because it turns out that women have a big impact on a company’s effectiveness. At the firms that are the most effective, they have the greatest number of women in leadership roles. The next most effective firms have the second largest amount of women running the company. The least effective companies have the fewest women leading the firm. Prior to the pandemic hitting, women had been making progress in the workplace and moving into more and more leadership positions. However, due to the pandemic women are planning on leaving the workplace. CIOs have to realize that innovation increases with the more women who are in the workplace. This means that CIOs have to take steps to retain the women that they already have and find ways to add more women to their workforce.

All CIOs understand that having a diverse workforce is critical to having a high performing IT department. We need to remember that women make up a great deal of the diversity of any IT department. CIOs have to look for ways to make sure that their IT department is going to be a place to women not only want to come to work, but want to stay there once they have joined your team. The good news is that we can do this. We just need to make the effort to make it happen.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: What steps can CIOs take to keep women as members of their IT department?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Now that the pandemic is staring to ease up, more and more CIOs are having their workers return to the office. However, even though your workers may return to the office, this does not mean that thing are going to be getting back to normal anytime soon. CIOs need to understand that many of their employees who are returning may feel very anxious about being in an office with other people while the Covid-19 pandemic is still going on. How can a CIO deal with this situation?