Understanding – Harnessing gender diversity


In celebration of International Women’s Day on March 8th 2015, IRG Executive Search & Selection will be providing a series of points of view to prove the business case for gender diversity at the executive level.

Female consumers represent a significant market segment, often also being key decision-makers for purchases for others as well as themselves.

Women are involved in 80% of consumer goods purchases in the UK according to a leading strategic consulting firm. With rising numbers entering employment and finally earning equal to or close to their male contemporaries, women have a greater disposable income and are expected to own 60% of all personal wealth by 2025. A gender-diverse workforce is better-placed to reflect the needs and preferences of this emerging market segment, enhancing the quality of customer interaction and the company’s ability to penetrate new markets with this knowledge.

The involvement of women in product design and marketing develops a company’s understanding of what the female market segment requires and desires: products can be orientated to address needs or concerns experienced specifically by this segment, ensuring higher customer satisfaction and sales. A differentiated sales approach of these products is also required, despite only 15% of companies taking heed of this. A leading business services organisation found that women are generally more receptive to visual evidence when considering a product where as men often prefer facts and figures when making a decision. An increase in female employees does not independently secure higher sales but their inclusion in the sales process aids understanding of the differences in decision-making, enabling the creation of a tailored approach. The success of making sales depends on a connection with the individual as opposed to their broader ‘grouping’.

Interestingly, the highest rates of female directors are found in sectors which are predominantly associated with close proximity to final consumers, such as retail, media and utilities. The correlation between quality of customer interaction and conversion into sales is rooted in the ability to connect with a customer, to display an understanding of need and build a rapport which leads to trust. Women can be more adept at perspective taking and making that connection due to their ‘other’ orientation, as mentioned in the article preceding this.

Such advantages also play a key role in business to business sales and customer relationship management. Women are rapidly climbing the ranks, becoming senior executives with purchasing responsibilities and there are now also more female entrepreneurs.

With a gender-diverse workforce, companies are able to respond to market developments more quickly and creatively as well as being able to penetrate new markets, armed with a more comprehensive understanding of the female market segment and better quality, relatable customer interaction.

IRG is co-hosting a 2015 event in celebration of International Women’s Day. The event embraces the UN’s International Women’s Day theme for 2015, “Making It Happen,” and explores the theme, “Stepping Up Together”. For real change to be implemented, IRG believes that men and women together need to fully commit to changing the imbalance in diversity.

We have already lined up some inspirational and motivational sessions and we’ll be working with Care International UK, who will help us understand their latest campaign “Walk In Her Shoes”.

For more information please visit: http://www.irgexecutivesearch.com/iwd-2015

International Women’s Day (IWD)
Make it Happen – “Stepping Up Together”
5 March 2015| Mayfair, London

Michael Mcloughlin is the Managing Director and Aimée-Leigh Musgrave is an Executive Search Consultant with IRG Executive Search & Selection.