Supporting Women Across the Organization: What We Can Do As Leaders
For the past two years, I have had the opportunity to speak on a panel at Rice University's Diversity Conference. As the "lone male voice" on the panel, I enjoy the occasion to sit with those on the ground floor of these issues-those that live them every day-and learn.
As I have said before, gender issues manifest themselves quietly, very quietly. We have seen it frequently in the media this past year, and I have seen it in my own organization. We know that companies with at least one female board member have higher returns on equity and higher net income growth than those boards without female members. Businesses with an equal gender mix perform better in terms of both sales and profits. Women are more collaborative, better listeners, and promote win-win problem solving. They are not just more collaborative, but they also are more likely to ask tough questions and demand straight answers. Yet it still takes three women on a board to change from a "women's point of view" to the normal state of affairs.
Changing the dynamic for women in the workplace means upsetting the status quo. This includes knocking down the different "rules" for men and women regarding advancement in their careers. Changing the perception of driven women in the workplace-acknowledging their contributions, strengths, and performance equitably-promotes a well-rounded workforce and therefore a more successful operation. My goal is not just increased education or improved hiring practices. Rather my goal is to build the best team and, time and time again, it has been proven that the best teams include women.
Involving women, promoting women, and placing women in leadership roles are all concrete steps we can take to dismantle gender discrimination in the workplace. When we take these opportunities, we encourage diverse thinking, which leads to creative solutions that solve for the needs of all customers. I am here to speak up for change and to embrace the culture and differences that drive the bottom line.
While we acknowledge women and all they do today on International Women's Day, every single day brings a chance to be a champion for diversity and inclusion. As a leader at NRG, I have a duty to set the tone of the workplace and my organization. By being an advocate, I can influence and inspire others to do the same.