January 3, 2017

Investing in Women in the Workforce – Why You Should, How You Can

From retention to compliance, there were a number of trending topics on the Ceridian HCM Blog this year. For the rest of December, we will be revisiting 10 of our most popular blog posts of 2016. Enjoy!

At Ceridian, we pursue diversity and equity for our people as an achievable ideal for our workplace; one that engages, encourages, and celebrates all of us. This means investing in our people. It means supporting the advancement of women in our workforce.

I’d argue all businesses should be doing the same: investing in women in the workforce. Why? Simply stated: they can’t afford not to. Women now make up half of the world’s working-age population – meaning, as McKinsey Global Institute reported if women “do not achieve their full economic potential, the global economy will suffer.” That same report goes on to describe how between 12 and 28 trillion dollars could be added to the global economy by 2025 if we achieve parity between men and women in the workforce. Okay, a business might say, but what’s in it for me? Well, to make a more self-interested case, research shows that organizations with a significant number of women in leadership positions achieve greater financial success.

Yet Catalyst, the leading organization focused on women in business, reports that only 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and 3.4 percent of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women. While Carol Bartz and Lisa Lambert, writing for Fortune point out that “only 14.6% of executive officer level positions are held by women.” McKinsey Global Institute, reporting on a survey done with LeanIn.Org, writes that “at the rate of progress of the past three years, it will take more than 100 years for the upper reaches of US corporations to achieve gender parity.”

So that’s the why, now let’s look at the how, and what can we do to retain and advance women into leadership roles where they will make the biggest difference. I have three key actions to recommend:

1. Educate. Companies need to provide the right learning opportunities and career tools for their workforce if they expect them to advance. I’d suggest events like Ceridian’s fireside chats, where we invite interesting and thoughtful speakers from the wider business community to come in and give a talk and take questions from our people. We also conduct webcasts as part of our Ceridian Women’s Network, where women leaders provide their valuable insights. Whatever format your business decides to take, any opportunity to showcase passionate speakers and pass on the lessons they’ve learned in their career not only motivates and engages but can provide a very real blueprint for your people to follow.

2. Promote. If the goal is supporting the advancement of women in your workforce, then you need a vehicle to promote that goal. Progressive businesses provide platforms for discussions and opportunities to discuss how to drive change. This can come in the form of dedicated blogs, websites or networking events. An upcoming and increasingly popular vehicle is in the form of focused events and summits with topics ranging from gender equality to equal pay. This year I am particularly proud as Ceridian launches the first inaugural Ceridian Women’s Network (CWN) Summit at INSIGHTS, our annual customer conference, where our customers, partners, employees, and leadership team can come together and engage in discussions around hot topics surrounding equity and diversity in the workplace.

Promoting through networking events like Ceridian’s might be the best approach for the women in your workforce as, likely, they are not networking enough on their own. As Carol Bartz and Lisa Lambert put it, “women spend more time doing and less time networking.” Consider this study that found of the percentage of US online adults, 24% of men used LinkedIn, the professional networking site, while only 19% of women did.

3. Lead. You need leadership to accomplish important goals. Parity at all levels of the workforce and gender pay equity are big, important goals that require support from the C-suite down. In your own organization, consider how committed leaders are to the advancement of women. Look at whether or not you are retaining and advancing enough women to build critical mass in leadership roles. At Ceridian we are fortunate to have leaders across our entire C-Suite including Chairman and CEO David Ossip (@dossip) and President Paul Elliott (@PaulElliottHCM) be champions and supporters of our diversity initiatives.

I’ll close with one last quote Carol Bartz and Lisa Lambert’s article: “women’s advancements in the workplace have skyrocketed in the past 20 years—their participation in the labor force has doubled, and now young women are entering the workforce better educated than their male counterparts.”

With more businesses realizing the economic — as well as social and moral — benefits of investing in women’s success, I expect to see more educating, promoting, and leading. I encourage you to take the lead, and work with your organization to implement some of these actions to further advance women in the workplace. And I would love to hear about initiatives that are working for you and your organization. Tweet them to me @KristinaCleary!

Kristina Cleary

Kristina Cleary leads global marketing at Ceridian. An avid runner, when KC isn’t chasing her two children, she’s running from conferences to client sites, and talking about the latest and greatest in HCM trends.


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