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Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of our next Economic Revolution

ISBN: 978-0-470-74950-0
390 pages
October 2009, Jossey-Bass
Why Women Mean Business: Understanding the Emergence of our next Economic Revolution (0470749504) cover image
Never before has there been such a confluence of international attention to the economic importance of women and the need for policies to enable them to fulfil their potential. The position of women - as employees, consumers and leaders - is seen as a measure of health, maturity and economic viability.

Why Women Mean Business takes the economic arguments for change to the heart of the corporate world. This powerful new book analyses the opportunities available to companies that really understand what motivates women in the workplace and the marketplace. Find out how companies that learn to adapt to women will be better able to respond to the challenge of an ageing workforce and the demands of the next generation of knowledge workers. The authors compare policies and approaches in countries around the world, that offer surprising and envious results.

The optimisation of women’s talents will boost the bottom line. Taking action to achieve this will require sustained courage and conviction from today’s corporate leaders. Reading Why Women Mean Business will be an important first step.

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Foreword by Niall FitzGerald KBE xiii

Preface by Michael Kimmel xv

Acknowledgements xxi

CHAPTER ONE: WOMENOMICS 1

Guarantors of growth 1

The strategic side of the gender divide 6

Opportunity cost 9

Valuing difference 12

Becoming “gender-bilingual” 15

Declining demographics is not destiny 18

21st century forces: weather, women, web 22

CHAPTER TWO: MOST OF THE TALENT 27

The “talent wars” are here 28

Female brainpower 30

Under-used talent 34

The role of business schools 36

Tapping into the pool 39

Recruiting: making women welcome 40

Retaining: structural repairs needed 44

Promoting: return on investment 57

Building better boards 62

Legislating solutions – the controversial quota 65

CHAPTER THREE: MUCH OF THE MARKET 73

Purchasing power – beyond parity 75

Female finances 77

Sex and segmentation 85

The many faces of marketing to women 89

Shut-your-eyes 90

Marginalise 93

Specialise 94

Prioritise 96

CHAPTER FOUR: BECOMING “BILINGUAL”, WHAT COMPANIES CAN DO 103

A fresh look at traditional approaches to gender 103

Equal and different 107

Diversity dilemmas 110

Recognise that “best” is biased 113

Surprising sectors 119

A new approach to gender 120

Understand the starting point 120

Personalise the conversation 124

Manage the metaphors – the power of vocabulary and vision 126

The building blocks of bilingualism 130

1 “Getting it”: top management commitment 131

2 Management bilingualism: proactively managing difference 132

3 Empowering women: the knowledge and networks to succeed 133

4 Banning bias: identifying and eliminating systemic bias from corporate systems and processes 134

CHAPTER FIVE: SEVEN STEPS TO SUCCESSFUL IMPLEMENTATION 141

Key success factors 141

1 Awaken your leadership team 143

2 Define the business case 148

3 Let people express resistance 151

4 Make it a business issue, not a women’s issue 155

5 Make changes before making noise 162

6 Don’t mix up the messages 166

7 Give it a budget, not just volunteers 170

CHAPTER SIX: CULTURE COUNTS, WHAT COUNTRIES CAN DO 183

Making bosses and babies 183

Best and worst: surprising results 187

Imperfect deal in America 199

Continents of contrast 206

Public policy pull, private sector push 212

CHAPTER SEVEN: FIGURING OUT FEMALES 223

What companies need to know about women 223

Discomfort with “politics” 225

The conversations that matter 236

Careers are not straight lines 238

Phase 1: ambition 242

Phase 2: culture shock 244

Phase 3: self-affirmation 252

The lure of entrepreneurship 256

Alternative views of “power” 258

Sex, success and the media 259

Change agents on their own terms 264

CHAPTER EIGHT: TOMORROW’S TALENT TRENDS . . . TODAY, “WOMEN-FRIENDLY” MEANS “PEOPLE-FRIENDLY” 271

New models of work 273

Fathers count too 277

Technology as enabler 280

The value of “grey” brainpower 285

Making the most of the “Me” generation 291

The future is already here 296

CHAPTER NINE: CONCLUSION, FROM BETTER BUSINESS TO A BETTER WORLD? 301

New voices, new choices 302

New measures of success 306

A challenge for business 309

Index 317

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Avivah Wittenberg-Cox is CEO of 20-First, a leading gender consultancy, Publisher of 20-first.com and a global expert on how businesses can gender balance to get the best out of both halves of the talent pool and both halves of the market. She is also the founder and honorary president of the European Professional Women’s Network, and a certified executive coach. Elle Magazine recognised her as one of the top 40 women leading change. She lives in France with her husband and gender balanced children (a son and a daughter).

Alison Maitland is a journalist and commentator who has been writing about women and business for over a decade. She spent 20 years with the Financial Times, latterly as Management Writer. A regular conference speaker and moderator, Alison is a Senior Visiting Fellow at Cass Business School in London and directs The Conference Board’s European Council for Diversity in Business. She lives in the UK with her husband and two daughters.

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