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4 Keys for Keeping Female Talent

by Beth on December 12th, 2011

Companies with more women on their top management team outperform companies with fewer women managers. Yet most women don’t stick around long enough to make it to the top. With Ginni Rometty joining IBM and Meg Whitman’s recent move to head HP the number of female Fortune 500 CEOs is at a record 18, which is still only 3.6%.

So what can companies do to retain female talent? Here are 4 suggestions:

End the stigma

While many firms have flexible work policies, they continue to reward face time and full-time work. Women who work from home or work reduced hours are perceived as less committed to their careers. As a result, they are not given choice assignments and are passed over for promotion.

Keep flexible hours flexible

All too often, flexible hours are not truly flexible. Once an employee has chosen a “flexible” schedule, say working from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., expectations are created that eliminate the flexibility needed to respond to family duties such taking an ailing mother to the doctor at 1:30 p.m. Women need real control over their working hours to integrate their careers and personal lives.

Focus on results

One way to provide flexibility is to move away from an emphasis on face time toward a focus on results. Best Buy has done this with an alternative work program called Results-Only Work Environment. Employees have total control over when, where, and how they work. The only thing that matters is that they meet their objectives. Read more about ROWE in the great book Why Work Sucks and How to Fix it.

Consider arc of career flexibility

Flexibility in place and time needs to be combined with flexibility over the arc of a career. This type of flexibility allows individuals to pass through a series of stages in their careers. They might have periods of intense work followed by some time out, then ramp back up to part-time work and later return to full-time work, possibly telecommuting once or twice a week. Companies that provide flexibility across the career arc allow women to continue their careers while adjusting their workloads to balance work and personal demands.

From → Work, Working women

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