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Develop A Business Case For Gender Diversity
April 16, 2019

Kelly Cooper Kelly Cooper
Senior Consultant

Communications Expert

Conducting a gender gap audit can help an organization identify areas of concern, opportunities for improvement, and strengths on which to build. It can also help an organization to understand areas where it can make improvements to maximize gender diversity in the workplace. These findings can form the core of a business base highlighting reasons that attention to these issues will have positive impacts on the organization. This business case, specific to your context, can be used in discussions with senior management, staff, shareholders, and other stakeholders. It showcases the potential business advantages of the gender audit and can form the basis for conversations with management, staff and stakeholders.

The development of a business case will also contribute to the eventual development of a gender equity strategy. The strategy transforms the business case into a concrete action plan, prioritizing tools and identifying the steps needed to make the changes identified in the gender audit.

The business case can include the operational reasons that gender diversity will make the company more profitable, innovative, and better integrated into the community. It can draw on industry and legislative commitments or requirements, corporate social responsibility commitments, and any applicable local and national laws and regulations.

When developing your business case, consider the following drivers to make a change toward a more gender equitable workplace:

Performance and profitability – Among the business case drivers are profitability gains from a more gender-diverse workforce, as demonstrated by innovation, productivity, condition of equipment and materials. Specific policies that can bring specific benefits to both men and women, such as improved childcare offerings, or more support for flex-work or family leave, can also positively impact profit and efficiency.

Sustainability – Has the company made commitments to diversity in the workforce or for local hiring? Increased gender diversity can help meet these commitments and improve company integration within the community.

Industry commitments – Has the company signed on to industry or other initiatives with commitments on gender diversity, such as the Equal by 30 campaign in the energy sector? Developing a gender diversity strategy and targets will help companies meet these commitments and improve their competitive ranking compared to other industry players.

Legislative requirements – Do the laws in the host country require a certain level of gender diversity or local employment? A proactive gender diverse strategy can help companies stay on top of both required and voluntary commitments. 

There are a few key attributes to consider when developing your business case:

Identify Your Focus – Based on the gaps identified in the gender audit, develop a list of initiatives you want to take action on. It could be measures to retain women such as on-site childcare, family leave policies, attracting women to your organization. The greater the clarity on the action to be taken, the easier it will be to determine the benefits obtained from the action taken.

Obtain Status Quo Information – where is your organization currently on the specific actions you’d like to change? Document the current state of play so you can demonstrate what impact your proposed changes will make.

Conduct a Cost-Benefit Analysis – once you’ve established the baseline information of the areas where you intend to make changes, conduct a cost-benefit analysis by providing proposed costs against proposed benefits. For example, if creating on-site childcare is one area of the family leave policies you’d like to pursue, get real numbers on what it would cost to establish on-site care. Then get real numbers on both men and women time off to deal with childcare related issues or the number of people that quit because childcare is simply too difficult to get. As much as you can obtain real numbers, the better the business case. Qualitative data can also be collected through one on one interviews with employees to measure costs.

Calculate Money Saved – a positive or neutral return on investment is the most powerful message to send to senior management in your business case. If neutral costs, then the value of pursuing gender equity is in the image of the organization. The organization can now speak confidently and openly about their attention to the social value of gender equity, thereby attracting and sustaining the best talent.

Create Your Business Case – A presentation ready business case should include discussion of the proposed intervention(s) and its objectives, any assumptions or estimates for the proposed program, discussion of methodology, Return on Investment analysis, and any case studies or examples to support the case for proposed interventions. Also important to include any recommendations on ways to move forward, whether or not additional assessments might be needed, and implementation options.

 Mobilizing Support and Creating Momentum

There are two key areas where you should take your business case to mobilize support and get traction within your company:

  1. Present your business case to your C-Suite – the first key group to engage on your business case in the most senior folks in your company. As decision makers, they will be able to provide the necessary resources – both human and financial – to support the gender equity change. They are also needed to advocate that gender equity is a part of the company culture and they are committed to its implementation and will be visibly supporting the gender equity actions as they move through the company.

  2. Communicate with all stakeholders – Once you have the support of your senior management, it is time to engage stakeholders such as unions, community, and staff. News about upcoming events such as conducting a gender audit and progress on the gender diversity strategy will provide opportunities for engagement.