Change management is one of the toughest jobs a leader will encounter. To implement successful and sustainable change requires having a plan, effectively engaging your audience and measuring impact. But before any of that occurs, you need a business case. A business needs to answer questions, like: Why are we embarking on this initiative? What is the ROI? And what is in it for me?

These are often tough questions to answer. The journey to gender parity is no different. If we are to reach meaningful outcomes on diversity in the workplace, we need to understand why it matters, for whom and consider real measurable returns on the investment of time and resources.

But – you may be asking – isn’t diversity in the workplace just the right thing to do? Sure, but welcome to the real world of business decision making. To achieve sustainable change that leadership teams will continue to support and invest in, there needs to be a business case. Eliminating the gender gap would add $28 trillion to global GDP. Clear enough. “But what is in it for me?” corporate leaders ask. So here you go:

THE WAR FOR TALENT

If you have tried to find great talent for your team recently, you don’t need to be told how tough it is to source a great candidate. The most recent ManpowerGroup Talent Shortage Survey found that 40 percent of employers are having difficulty filling jobs. What is surprising is that so few employers have tapped into effective strategies to attract, delight and retain talented women. According to a McKinsey & Company recent report, “a mere 7 percent of the companies in our sample ranked diversity among the top three priorities on their strategic agenda.” Yet, what is proven is that companies with a diverse culture attract talent more easily from today’s diverse hiring pool.

Women make up about half the workforce; earn 57 percent of bachelors, 58 percent of masters and 46 percent of doctoral degrees. Women make up half the hiring pool, and yet the numbers of women who are championed up the pipeline to leadership drop off dramatically. Why does this matter? Many reasons. Essentially, diversity + inclusion = better business outcomes. One example is that companies with more inclusive cultures have experienced lower turnover – which significantly improves direct and indirect costs to the company. Gallup has compelling evidence that there are links to productivity, quality, employee commitment and retention.

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