Inforum's Call to Action

October 17, 2009
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Ten Things Companies Should Do Now

1. Work toward functional diversity. Intelligent problem-solvers chosen at random outperform a homogenous group.

2. Send a message from the top. Gender diversity occurs in companies where a CEO has made a personal commitment to it.

3. Put more women on your board. Find them in the executive ranks of Fortune 1000 companies, running hospitals and nonprofits, in industry and professional organizations and attending educational and corporate governance programs.

4. Rethink human resources. Simple changes can clear obstacles for women from corporate HR policies. For example, dump evaluation processes that penalize women for taking maternity leave.

5. Recruit smarter. Make sure recruiters are diversity-trained and marketing materials reflect diversity.

6. Make mentoring a priority. The need for a mentoring program is greater for women in male-dominated industries.

7. Retain your best women. Flexible work hours, generous maternity leave benefits and coaching are key.

8. Measure your results. Put goals in writing and track results. Benchmarks: proportion of women in each business unit at each level; pay levels of men vs. women at comparable levels; attrition rates by gender; ratio of women actually promoted to the number of women eligible for promotion.

9. Plan for diversity. Use succession planning and strategic thinking to take advantage of turnover.

10. Move beyond tokenism. It is not enough to add a woman here or there. The best performers build a critical mass that gives women the power to have their views heard.

Ten Ways Michigan Women Can Rev Up Their Careers

1. Have an elevator speech. Even if you never meet the CEO in an elevator, this can be your best tool for building your brand.

2. Get connected at your company. Get involved with internal networking or mentoring.

3. Dare to apply. Women tend to apply for jobs only if they meet all the criteria, while men apply if they meet 60 percent.

4. Network like your career depends on it. Join professional organizations, alumni groups and networks to build contacts.

5. Have an online presence. Use LinkedIn and Facebook, but be careful about what you post.

6. Get trained. Take advantage of company training or tuition reimbursement.

7. Boost your leadership skills. Soft skills help you climb the ladder.

8. Know what you are good at. Evaluate skills and competencies for use in jobs or fields you have not considered.

9. Know what success means to you and move toward it. Write down a strategic outline for where you want to go.

10. Be flexible. Be ready to alter your plans as your situation and the world change. Source: Inforum Center for Leadership

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