Building a Brand around Inclusivity

Shaking hands

The numbers don’t lie – empowering and advancing women in business has a positive influence on the bottom line.  A 2011 Catalyst study shows that companies with three or more female corporate directors outperformed those with no women on the board by 84% on ROS, 60% on ROIC, and 46% on ROE.  A 2010 McKinsey survey reported a 34% increase in profits for companies that made an effort to empower women in emerging markets.  There are clear performance advantages for more diverse teams at every level of the corporate spectrum.

We see the business need to promote our female colleagues, but what can one man do about it?  Here are three win-win actions that support inclusion while furthering your own professional development.

Get a Reverse Mentor.  A reverse mentor is a high-potential new hire who mentors a senior leader on topics including Millennial preferences, social media usage, and technology trends.  From my experience, these relationships usually end up being two-way mentorships even though they’re intended to flow from the bottom up.  This means that senior men will gain valuable insights from upcoming ladies in their organization, and high-potential young women will reap the benefits of an established connection in the company.

Participate in Your Women’s Affinity Group.  As an affinity group leader, nothing excites me more than when a man participates in our events.  I even rolled out a “MENbership” campaign last May to bring more diversity into our organization.  Not only will you personally benefit from the professional development and networking opportunities that your women’s Employee Resource Group offers, but your presence will also show your commitment to inclusion.  Bonus points if you offer to give a skills-based training to your women’s group!

Connect your peers. The lack of mentors, sponsors, and role models for professional women is an understated hurdle.  Introduce the women in your network to your higher-level colleagues.  Some of my best career coaching has come out of half hour coffee breaks with leaders outside of my department.  Rest assured that this karma investment will be paid back to you through your newly extended network.

With all the (much needed) commotion about attracting, retaining, and promoting women in corporate America, there’s one thing that we need to STOP doing.

Stop thinking this is a gender issue.  This is actually an economic issue.  There will be 1.4 million computing-related jobs by 2020. Less than 29% will be filled by Americans, and less than 3% of those will be women.  We simply can’t afford to leave half of our population out of the highly-demanding STEM industry.  Warren Buffett once wrote "we've seen what can be accomplished when we use 50% of our human capacity. If you visualize what 100% can do, you'll join me as an unbridled optimist about America's future.”


Keefe, J. Gender Equality as an Investment Concept. Pax World Investments (

Code: Debugging the Gender Gap (