Diversity: Women wanted

Diversity wins, so why isn’t everyone in the pool?

Study after study confirms that companies that embrace diversity perform better than those that don’t. But change happens slowly — very slowly. That’s why Groundbreakers, a new report calling for companies to promote more women in order to get more diverse viewpoints, still holds some significance.

Let’s be clear: the report by Ernst & Young does not advocate tokenism or gender quotas. “We’re not talking about moving somebody into a leadership position who isn’t ready,” says Lou Pagnutti, chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young Canada. “But we need to make sure all our people have access to the training, coaching and mentoring they need now so that we develop a rich pipeline of future talent to move into leadership positions down the road.”

For some companies, diversity can be a competitive advantage in finding new ways of doing things — and everybody should be doing that these days. The first step, says Pagnutti, is awareness, including understanding the unconscious biases we all hold that may prevent real action from taking place. Companies can then develop these employees’ skills so that they’re ready to take on their next roles. It takes time, but the process should start now.