By Daniel Hunter

While it is now accepted that companies with high levels of gender diversity at all levels outperform those that don’t, many are still struggling to address diversity effectively within their organisations.

Of those that have implemented diversity strategies, many are also finding that they are not achieving results. Specialist UK consultancy, Female Quotient Limited has launched to help organisations of all sizes identify and put effective programs and practices in place to realise the businesses benefits of gender balance.

Companies with more women board directors outperform those with the least by 53% based on return on equity, 66% based on return on capital invested and 42% based on return on sales. Women are alsopegged to be the new talent majority with 75% of all graduates expected to be female by 2015.

While organisations understand the need to attract and retain female talent at all levels, the reality is that many continue to struggle.Today, women still only account for 17.3% of FTSE-100 boardroom roles. And, while women hold 40% of first-line management positions, at mid-management female representation dramatically declines to just 15%.

“Businesses are coming around to the fact that if they don’t address gender balance within their organisations they will lose competitiveness,” said Amanda Street, Co-Founder of Female Quotient.

“Despite this, the difficulty in retaining women and developing the female talent pipeline persists. If a working woman has a child, which 80% will, her chances of being hired fall by 79% and she is half as likely to be promoted. This cannot continue.

"It’s no longer about what’s best for women, this is about what’s best for business. And it’s the right mix of both men and women at all levels that will drive business success.”

According to the McKinsey report Women Matter: Making the Breakthrough, published in November 2012, while 90% of companies surveyed said that they were taking steps to tackle gender diversity many companies are struggling to implement effectively what they have formally put in place and are frustrated by the slow rate of progress.

Some companies were shown to have targets forwomen in senior positions but no action plans to meet them, and while 69% ofcompanies said they had mentoring programs in place for women, only 16% said they were well implemented.

“Organisations tackling gender balance issues need to understand that it’s a two way street to success. Without addressing the needs of both the organisation and the individual, diversity initiatives will be less effective,” said Street.

“At Female Quotient we recommend a top down and a bottom up approach, considering the organisation as a whole system and the employee as a whole person. Career committed parents need to be given the opportunity to perform at all levels. Get it wrong and organisations will continue to lose skilled female talent or that talent will stagnate; get it right and organisations will naturally create better working environments for both men and women, enjoy lasting loyalty and best of all, see improved results to the bottom line.”

FQ delivers innovative, practical solutions to businesses that attract and retain employees, and deliver greater business performance. They also work with individuals and teams to increase confidence, resilience and achieve sustained results. Co-Founders Amanda Street and Lyndsey Oliver collectively have over 45 years global strategic and operational experience in a wide range of world-class multi-national clients.

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