“The best CEOs publicly commit to high-performance meritocracies.”

October 29, 20141 minute read

In a Harvard Business Review network blog, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox writes, “Slowly but surely, the shift from the 20th century view that ‘gender imbalance is a woman’s problem” to the more 21st century “gender imbalance is a leadership challenge” is beginning to take root.” She points out that “large, established organizations are finally starting to accept that gender imbalances are a business problem. She advises leaders to address gender imbalance by proceeding strategically.

First, leaders of an organization must “get it, buy it and sell it.” “The best CEOs publicly commit to high-performance meritocracies.” Second, explain why it matters – and avoid purely ethical arguments around diversity and fairness. As Paul Polman of Unilever is quoted as saying, “Unless we recognise the critical role that women play and unless we involve women more directly in developing solutions, then we are destined never to fulfil our potential.” Third, build skills and spend time educating managers to understand the different behaviors, preferences and concerns of men and women.

Wittenberg-Cox is also the author of Women Mean Business, a book recommended by one of the panelists at the 2014 CSCMP conference’s track on “Leveraging Networks to Achieve Women’s Excellence in Supply Chain.” Find more insights in the upcoming AWESOME Report, on this website in early November.