My strategic analysis for gender diversity

Then, four years ago, I was one of 6 motivated Alcatel-Lucent women who decided to create a company-wide diversity network to help women thrive. We called it StrongHer. My main conviction when launching StrongHer, was to share some key take-aways that I had learned the slow way, so as to accelerate the pace of effectiveness for 21% of the Alcatel-Lucent’s workforce.

As stated by Florence Dossogne in the StrongHer video, StrongHer wants Alcatel-Lucent women to feel that they belong here, and consequently to follow their motivation and deploy all their energy. During the last four years, I have enjoyed sharing my experiences and some tips with Alcatel-Lucent men and women, and I have enjoyed -even more- hearing positive feedback on how a discussion or a mentoring session has helped them.

Deep diving into diversity has convinced me that leveraging all talent, men and women, in different organizations, and obviously, into leadership, is a strategic challenge and a business imperative for all companies.

Analysts have shown strong correlations between higher gender diversity, and better company’s performance. While correlations are not causality, these analyses have nevertheless been used broadly to reinforce the Diversity Business Case.

For Alcatel-Lucent Global Day of Learning, I built a diversity value creation framework, a qualitative tool revisiting these correlations through a systematic, strategy-oriented thought process. Value creation is brought by growth, cost reduction, or productivity from our assets. Better leveraging our diverse talent contributes to each of these value creation drivers:

  • Diverse talent bring in more ideas and innovations
  • Diverse talent enable to meet more needs and expectations from diverse customers
  • Enabling all talent to thrive reduces attrition and increases the company’s attractiveness to job seekers. Both of these factors contribute to reducing costs
  • Confident and motivated employees contribute more to the company’s productivity

Once we answer the “Why gender diversity?” question, we can start thinking about the “How”.

Many companies are working on greater diversity right now, when hiring, promoting, nominating leaders...

My ambition as Global Diversity Lead is to move the diversity lines so that we can break glass corridors and ceilings. So as to assess our ecosystem, I created a fair benchmark methodology, and then I have built a systematic approach to gender diversity, which our EXCOM committed on.

Most diversity reports are disclosing the % of women in the workforce, and the % of women amongst leaders. Companies hiring from engineering pools where women are scarce look diversity-adverse through these lenses. But in a company where women represent 50% of the workforce, glass ceilings will be history when women will represent 50% of the leadership positions. In case women would be 25% at leadership level, the female talent pool this company leverages at leadership level is half of what it could be. Their Female Capital Gap* is 50%. Using the Female Capital Gap metric, one can benchmark companies’ ability to leverage their male and female talent.

Alcatel-Lucent's female capital gap is 28% today, and we aspire to reduce that gap to 15% by end 2016.

*Female Capital Gap = (% women in leadership - % women in workforce)/%women in workforce

Our approach to get there is based on an increased top down attention from our leaders to diverse talent, on targeted and meaningful bottom up career development for women, on cross organization awareness building, and above all, on the deep conviction that Diversity is in our DNA, as a global company with a workforce spread over 3 continents, dedicated to building and deploying the digital networks and tools for use by men AND women alike.

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