The European Commission (EC) is working to compel businesses towards 40% of women on corporate boards, but where will the qualified female leaders come from? Women make up 50% of the EU workforce but occupy only 22% of top teams. The business world needs more women prepared for and promoted into leadership roles – and not just to meet the EC’s goal. According to the World Economic Forum’s 2018 “Future Jobs Survey” burgeoning AI and the Fourth Industrial Revolution will transform jobs in a manner that disproportionately impacts women.
The role of business schools has become crucial – they must provide welcoming environments that attract and train women, preparing them for executive and leadership roles. Over 200 business schools discussed how to increase female engagement and enrollment at October’s EMBA Council Conference (EMBAC) in Madrid. The industry average of 27% women is improving, but more must be done to meet school and corporate goals. Leaders from the University of Notre Dame and Executive Core presented recent successes that increased female applicants and drove inclusivity. Their research and experience showed that conversation and male participation are essential elements.
Three exemplars included Notre Dame (ND), UCLA and UC Berkeley, which have held workshops with female and male students. The student-led meetings discussed unconscious bias, shared women’s stories from work and school, and challenged men to make their classes and future workplaces more inclusive. ND students self-produced a video to encourage women to pursue their education and executive roles. All three schools’ women engaged male classmates to affirmatively become “MANbassadors,” individuals pledged to champion and respect women professionally and publicly.
While EMBAC attendees set a bold goal of 50% women by 2030, business schools and corporations must follow the student lead. Both should develop highly adaptable recruiting strategies and work to transform cultures and environments to make diverse groups of women feel welcome. Investing capital into high-potential women isn’t sufficient, they need to champion future woman leaders, address gender challenges, and grow the pool.
We encourage you to find, or be your own “MANbassadors,” who can help make the workplace even more equitable to all genders, welcoming, and nimble. Promote dialogue at your organisation, and don’t lose focus. If we’re successful, people will talk less about gender, and make promotion decisions simply on people analytics and positive business results.
About the authors
Barbara Singer is CEO of Executive Core – a global firm that facilitates talent development at corporations and business schools. Ms Singer is co-awardee of the Association of Corporate Executive Coaches Designated Thought Leader on Talent in 2014. Paul Velasco is an academic institution consultant, dedicated MANbassador, and former director at Ohio State University, University of Notre Dame, University of Michigan and the University of Virginia.