Book Review: Why Women Mean Business
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There is a shortage of skills. It’s coming soon, if you haven’t already. There aren’t enough people in the workforce to meet demand and provide for my generation’s pension needs. Why Women Mean Business: Understanding The Emergence of Our Next Economic Revolution by Avivah Witenberg-Cox, Alison Maitland reveals the answer: women. Our educational achievements are better, but we are less represented in the workplace, particularly at senior levels.
This book examines the current issues facing businesses and offers “womenomics”, a solution. The book is full of facts, research, and real-life case studies, but it doesn’t rely on old arguments.
According to the authors, in order to get the best out of the talent of women, companies must understand the business imperatives for including them. It’s not about having a diversity program and only lip service to equality. It’s all about the bottom line financial results and the customer satisfaction that contributes to them.
There is plenty of data to support that assertion: by 2010, women will control $22 trillion in the US. In 2007, retailers missed out on PS600m by failing to connect with female customers. It is in every company’s best interest to ensure that a group with such purchasing power is represented on the Board as well as at all levels of management. Without knowing your customers, you won’t be able to serve them.
According to the authors, companies must be “gender-bilingual” to succeed in difficult times. This will make it easier for both men and women to communicate their opinions.
Why Women Mean Business provides some practical tips for making a company a gender-bilingual organization. It discusses how recruitment practices can discriminate. For example, roles that require an MBA are primarily filled by men. MBA courses require several years of business experience and a woman could be taking a break to have a family.
However, it is important for countries to support women at work through their public policies. Wittenberg-Cox and Maitland devote a chapter to cultural differences and the role of countries in helping businesses win the talent war and retain women. For example, in the United States, women are not allowed to take maternity leave.
To become bilingual, companies must first recognize that women are equal and different. It is important to recognize that men are an integral part of addressing leadership and business problems caused by the lack of women’s talent at work. This will help companies become more attractive employers, win more business, and be more successful.
This book is easy to read and will challenge your assumptions. It will also open your eyes to the differences in the workplace. It is full of compelling arguments. Let’s hope the people who make policies listen and start to see some gender initiatives that have teeth.