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Are You Listening to All the Right Voices?

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In a Huffington Post article “Corporate America Should Be Embarrassed About This Chart,” authors Emily Peck, Alissa Scheller and Andrew Lord reveal that less than 5 percent of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women. The authors also note that the nonprofit group Catalyst reported “women hold less than 20 percent of the board seats on the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.”  

Though the article focuses on women in leadership and boardroom roles, it comes as no surprise that the leadership numbers for those of other minority groups is pretty bleak, too. The lack of diversity in leadership positions and boardrooms continued to be a big problem for companies. A problem that has direct implications for the bottom line.

The target audiences of most companies is increasingly diverse. You may say you’re targeting women between the ages of 18 and 30, but there’s likely to be a lot of diversity within those broad parameters. You need to take race, sexual orientation, socioeconomic backgrounds, and more into account when creating your business strategies.

These strategies require the involvement of diverse employees in leadership roles and in boardrooms. The fact that women are usually in charge of making decisions about the majority of purchases for their households should be an added impetus for business leaders to be proactive in ensuring that women hold key roles in their organizations. Try as he might, a middle-aged man will be challenged in relaying to the mindset of a woman in her mid-twenties! Organizations need leadership representation from the markets they wish to serve. Inclusion is a business imperative!

Inclusive leaders understand the importance of diversity in their leadership ranks. But, it’s not always easy to get from where you are to where you need to be. What can you do to build a leadership team that leverages the value of female leaders?

First, understand that your leadership team—and your employee demographics—must match your market. We call this “key employee demographics required for growth.” You can’t adequately understand the needs of your market if you’re not listening to the voices that represent your market.

Cast a wide net when seeking input. Be inclusive!

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