The Troubling Truth: Why Your Company Culture is Still Broken
It’s no secret that company culture matters. Giants such as Enron, Uber, Theranos, and WeWork have suffered or collapsed due to toxic work practices.
According to a study conducted by Deloitte, 87% of organizations cite culture and engagement as one of their top challenges. In fact, 82% of respondents believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage.
But how do employees feel? A Harvard Business Review found that 64% of employees do not feel that they have a strong work culture.
So, where is the disconnect? The problem lies not in WHAT companies are trying to do but WHO they’re leaning on to do the work. Women. Women leadership is 2x as likely as men leaders to spend substantial time on DEI.
Women alone cannot fix company culture or lack of diversity. The burden of creating a more inclusive workplace should not fall solely on the shoulders of women, especially women from marginalized communities. It is the responsibility of all company leadership to take equal action and make real changes.
The redundant logic of asking marginalized groups to not only educate the majority but also lead “employee resource groups” (often known as ERGs) to provide resources for others who are like them at no additional compensation in my mind is outrageous.
The additional (and unpaid) mental and physical labor this requires, are stretching our women thin, causing higher likelihood of burnout (43% of woman leaders vs 31% of men at the same level).
True gender diversity starts by retaining, hiring and promoting female leaders. According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity are 25% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the bottom quartile. Additionally, companies with diverse teams have been shown to be more innovative and better at problem-solving. It is clear that a lack of diversity and inclusion is not just a moral issue, but a business issue as well.
Unfortunately, we still have a long way to go when it comes to creating a truly inclusive workplace. Women, particularly women of color, continue to be underrepresented in leadership positions and face barriers to advancement. They are also more likely to experience workplace discrimination and harassment.
And yet, companies continue to turn to women to fix their culture and increase diversity. This is not only unfair but ineffective.
Why should women have to shoulder the burden of changing a company’s culture, particularly when their DEI work is often not acknowledged, properly funded, or supported sufficiently?
Furthermore, asking women to “fix” the company culture also reinforces harmful gender stereotypes. It suggests that women are solely responsible for creating a welcoming and inclusive workplace, while men are not expected to play a role.
Instead of expecting women to fix the company culture, companies should take concrete steps to create a more inclusive workplace. This may include establishing diversity and inclusion training programs, implementing hiring practices that prioritize diversity, and providing a psychologically safe environment where all employees feel valued and respected.
I believe it is time for our male leadership counterparts to take responsibility for creating a more inclusive workplace and take concrete steps to make that a reality. By doing so, they will not only create a better workplace for their employees but also see improved business outcomes.
What’s your next step, leaders? Sponsor and champion your women by giving them a safe space not just inside but outside of the workplace to ask for what they need to ask, give, and grow their career.
Does that make you nervous? If so, you should ask yourself why. I was once told by a global corporation who partnered with us to increase their ability to recruit diverse talent but chose not to sponsor their current female employees, “…because we are afraid they will leave.”
Sounds pretty toxic to me.
If you’re ready to truly support your women or support the efforts of your ERG(s), please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org – we would love to help.