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Gender Diversity

Gender Diversity as a Business Imperative

Building a workplace that supports, retains and advances women can improve company performance. The benefits come in part from using previously untapped talent. A higher level of diversity affords other advantages across the organizations: stronger risk management, better relationships with customers and stakeholders, lower turnover costs, and an enhanced public reputation.

The statistics cited below show that well-educated women are entering the work force on leadership tracks in ever-greater numbers. The numbers also point to women's increasing clout as investors and

consumers. Even so, far too often, the business environment undervalues their qualifications, talents and interests.

More educated women

  • As of fall 2008, women comprised 55 percent of college students in the United States
  • Among young adults aged 25 to 29, 35 percent of women and 27 percent of men possessed a bachelor's degree or higher in 2009.
  • Among 25- to 29-year-olds, women held more than 58 percent of advanced degrees in 2009.

More women on management career tracks

  • In 2008, 38 percent of women aged 16 or older worked in management, professional and related occupations, compared to 32 percent of men.
  • Yet few women rise to the top. In May 2010, only 15 women were CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (3.6 percent); at smaller companies, the numbers are lower.

More women as investors and consumers

  • Women hold 89 percent of all U.S. bank accounts and 51 percent of all personal wealth, and are worth more than $5 trillion in consumer spending power.
  • Women in the United States are responsible for 83 percent of all consumer purchases.

All statistics are for the United States. Sources: U.S. Census Bureau; WOW! Facts Diversity Almanac, Volume 11 (2010)

UNC Report

Resources for further information assistance:

  • Barbara Annis, books and consulting:
  • Avivah Wittenberg-Cox book, Seven Steps to leading a Gender-Balanced Business
  • Additional consultants (with a focus on engaging men in promoting gender diversity):
    • Chuck Shelton, Greatheart Leader Labs
    • Jeffrey Tobias Halter, YWomen