Women in the workplace: A drive to thrive

5 ways businesses can help women win

Older woman speaking to diverse group of people At a time when women’s voices are rising around the world, this year’s International Women’s Day is a strong call-to-action to press forward (#PressforProgress) and progress gender parity. Ignoring half the population is no longer an acceptable nor savvy business approach. More than ever, business success is defined today by who has the best people tackling the most important problems.

Everyone from investors and business leaders to clients, suppliers and board members are aligned that the current incremental pace of change is simply not good enough. Consider this staggering statistic. The World Economic Forum predicts that it rel="noopener noreferrer" will take an astounding 217 years to close the gender gap. Yet, according to McKinsey, achieving gender equity by 2025 could add as much as $28 trillion to annual GDP.

Chart: Number of years it will take to close the global gender gap
So why wait 217 years for $28 trillion? The time for businesses to close the gender gap is now.

Time to move beyond headlines and hashtags What can organizations do today to help women thrive and reap the competitive advantages of a gender-diverse workforce? Here are top 5 actionable steps to implement.

  1. Start with recruitment. Eliminate bias in the recruitment process. Create gender-neutral job advertisements that encourage women to apply, opt for blind assessments that serve to remove unconscious bias and make sure there is diversity on the interview panel, providing candidates the opportunity to speak with senior women managers.
  2. Promote flexibility. Focus on outcomes, not attendance. Balancing a family and successful career can be a difficult balancing act. Encourage women to take advantage of flexible work arrangements, parental leave and other policies to support them, especially during key life stages such as when they start a family and shoulder child rearing responsibilities.
  3. Foster a culture of authenticity. Grant Thornton’s culture is built on the concept of bringing your whole self to work. Encouraging women to be their authentic selves at work, demonstrating their diverse approaches to leadership and becoming the best possible versions of themselves helps them to achieve their best results.
  4. Provide stretch opportunities. Don’t assume that having a family precludes a woman’s desire to take on new challenges. Instead, continue to offer opportunities, provide support and allow women to make the decision.
  5. Support women with programs and practices. Equitable pay practices, bias-free promotion and performance management processes and programs that acknowledge women’s caretaking responsibilities and unique health and financial needs all help women thrive.

Across every service line, industry and geography, women at Grant Thornton are making a huge daily impact on the clients they serve. They understand what it takes to succeed in today’s world of work, bringing bold ideas, deep expertise and thought leadership to drive business growth.

What does it take to thrive in today’s business world? A sample of Grant Thornton’s women leaders weigh in with some key insights:

Wendy WrightWendy Wright
Relationship Director, Performance Enablement

“Most critically, women can thrive by being incredibly focused on prioritization. By discerning where they can deliver the most value to their clients, to their teams, and to their direct reports, women can optimize their time to spend it in the areas most likely to innovate, deliver business results, and positively impact a business culture. This is even more important for women, who are often balancing external priorities to a greater extent than their male colleagues. By delivering on a focused list of the high-impact business priorities in the workplace, it enables women to devote the necessary time during “off-work hours” to external priorities. This allows women to thrive in a more holistic way, benefiting both their workplaces and their families and external priorities.”

Lori DavisLori Davis
Managing Partner, Denver Office

“Women are often reluctant to take on a new role or move to the next level until we feel completely prepared and confident about our abilities to succeed. We should take a leap of faith now and then, and seek out projects where there is an opportunity to learn and be challenged. This will give you visibility within your organization and position you as a leader. It will also give you a confidence boost each time you do it.”

Wendy Morton-HuddlestonWendy Morton-Huddleston
RAS-GPS Principal, Public Sector Advisory

“Build the brand that they have imagined and believe in it. Embody confidence and integrity and groom others to embrace these traits. Focus on an enterprise perspective (seek out operational experiences – information technology, acquisitions, human capital, financial management) rotational experiences are priceless. As cited in the Center for Economic Development, “Women, run, do not walk, toward P&L experience. Seek and learn from challenges. Remember, it’s about who you know, what you know and who knows what you know.”

Jackie RosenfeldtJackie Rosenfeldt
Partner, Audit Services

“Women need to be resilient in the business world. It’s not easy. It’s not a walk in the park. Somebody might say something to you that you’re not on board with. So you need to understand where that comes from. If you’re having a hard day, you need to have those tools to get your resilience up and get back on the mood elevator.”

Tiffany YatesDr. Tiffany Yates
Senior Manager, Organizational Strategy

“In order for women to really move up their career progression they need two things. They need a mentor and advocate. A mentor is someone that coaches you and gives you the right skillset to help guide you forward on that career journey. The advocate is that cheerleader, the person who can give you the positive momentum to move forward even when you’re having a bad day. It’s important that diverse people at the upper echelons of the organization mentor and advocate for the next generation of leaders. And for women, if you have an opportunity proposed to you, you have to take a risk, jump in, stretch and grow.”

Angela SilverAngela Silver
Senior Associate, Audit

“Women can thrive in today’s business world by actively seeking out new opportunities, obtaining mentors, both formal and informal, who will support our development and career progression, and advocating for ample resources at our workplaces including flexible arrangements, leave policies and time off.”

Ready to move your gender diversity agenda forward? Grant Thornton can help. Reach out to our professionals below.

Contacts Erica O’Malley
Erica O’Malley

Partner, Organizational Strategy
T: +1 312 602 8786

Dr. Tiffany Yates
Dr. Tiffany Yates

Senior Manager, Organizational Strategy
T: +1 678 515 2314