The New Women’s Work: Celebrating #IWD2016

Once a year International Women’s Day celebrates women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievement. It’s nice to have 24 hours especially for this, but why not bring women’s achievement mainstream. 

When women are safe and productive, their economies and networks also thrive. This benefits everyone, universally. Examples abound, from Manhattan office towers to sub-Saharan Africa.

On the eve of IWD 2016, last week Josh Bersin’s team at Deloitte released a new report called Global Human Capital Trends. It’s a primer on the inclusive work transformation underway in the world, and it maps straight to this year’s conversation about International Women.

The report had us from the start; opening passages align perfectly with our takeaways from IWD 2016 events, and we highlight from the introduction:

“The ‘new organization’ is built around highly empowered teams, driven by a new model of management, led by more globally diverse leaders focused on a shared culture, designing a work environment that engages people, and constructing a new model of career development. Organizations are vying for top talent in a highly transparent job market and becoming laser-focused on their external employment brand. Executives are embracing tech to reinvent the workplace, focusing on diversity and inclusion as a business strategy, and realizing that, without a strong learning culture, they will not succeed.

  • Employers win when they invest in strong learning cultures where people can choose to participate on efforts to improve lives, inside the organization and literally anywhere in the world.
  • Diversity inclusion isn’t a “nice to have;” it’s a critical business strategy in and of itself—a strategy that many of the top businesses in the world are actively pursuing, and because it’s good for the bottom line. A new EY report of 21,000 public companies in 91 countries finds that businesses with at least 30% female leaders had net profit margins up to 6% higher than companies with no women in the top ranks. That’s significant.
  • We see massive efforts, financed by the private-sector, to help women who don’t yet live in a world where good health care, education, employment, safety, and security are the norm.

Let’s bring International Women’s Day forward to the entire year ahead. Special congratulations to the well-designed, well-funded programs to advance women globally. Kudos to those influential people in executive positions who truly care, and who are creating sustainable impact from within their organizations.

“We run our women’s network like a business,” GE’s Chief Diversity Officer Deb Elam told us at the IWD Business of Inclusion conference held at the United Nations this week. “We use the program to attract, retain, develop, and promote women; with it, we drive mentoring and skills-based volunteering among our employees.”

It makes sound business sense for a global enterprise to improve the potential for women in regional economies. A new report from McKinsey puts the opportunity at $12 Trillion. The McKinsey team analyzed a “best in region” scenario, in which all countries match the progress toward gender parity of the fastest-improving country in their region. “This would add as much as $12 trillion in annual 2025 GDP, equivalent in size to the current GDP of Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom combined, or twice the likely growth in global GDP contributed by female workers between 2014 and 2025 in a business-as-usual scenario.”

Corporations like Microsoft are dead serious about their commitment on this:

“We work from a single mission statement around empowerment. Empowerment on the planet.”

We work from a single mission statement around empowerment. Empowerment on the planet,” says Toni Townes-Whitney, Corporate VP of MSFT Worldwide Public Sector.

“At Microsoft we want to drive digital transformation across broad sectors. How can we reach all these girls and women in need? We are equipping them with tools, education. We’re working hard on protection against human trafficking. Safety, yes. Government services, yes. We are on the ground, around the world, identifying solutions. In India, we work with the new head Postmaster, a woman who is using that distribution platform to serve up information and support for our initiatives.”

US school children are also learning about women’s leadership and innovation via Microsoft’s employee-led program in partnership with Girls Who Code. This #MakeWhatsNext video is a must-watch for students, women, men—let’s just say we think everyone might like to take a few minutes on it! Produced by Microsoft Philanthropies, thanks to COO Lori Harnick.

Much of the impactful work around the world is being accomplished via innovative strategic partnerships:

Qualcomm and Sony have created a goal to improve maternal and child health in Morocco, driving ultrasounds via a 3G network. “The program became sustainable after one year,” Qualcomm’s Angela Baker says, both in terms of cost and behavior change: “Now we have women coming into the clinics because they see how beneficial the services are.”

As with any successful engagement program, it’s wise to set goals and priorities from the outset.

“What outcomes are you trying to achieve?,” Qualcomm’s Baker says. “Have these women grown their businesses? Are they hiring other women? Are their children going to school now? It’s not only about how many phones we gave away; it’s because these phones give women access to information, banking, healthcare, services for their families, and more. We want to leverage the benefits of mobile for social good.”

Bersin’s team concludes that “the mission of the HR leader is evolving from that of ‘chief talent executive’ to ‘chief employee experience officer.’” Most women and men we know will certainly want to celebrate this evolution.

How about you? Does your company offer a world-class, impactful employee experience? Are you interested in creating a program like this in time for IWD2017? We’d love to hear about it in the Comments.