Your Women’s Leadership Strategy – Bringing It All Together (Part 4 of 4)

Real Diversity Isn’t a Journey It’s an Integrated Strategy to Change Your Culture (Part 4 of 4)

For the first three posts on creating an integrated women’s leadership strategy, I have focused on hard business dialogue, measures, metrics, and accountability. My last segment will focus on an equally critical element that many organizations cannot even measure today but is evolving into a critical success driver – your Corporate Reputation and an equally pressing need for an Integrated Communications Plan.

Your Company Reputation is under Attack!

Most senior leaders aren’t talking about Corporate Reputation out loud but it secretly keeping them up at night. Most are wondering:

  1. What are consumers/customers/prospective employees saying about the company?
  2. What are activist groups up to that may hit the radar?
  3. What crazy hackers or cyber-terrorists are going to target us and what happens when our company e-mail is hacked and every secret is exposed.

Being a good corporate citizen is no longer enough. You need to manage your company reputation proactively, aggressively, and on a daily basis.

What does this have to do with an integrated women’s leadership strategy? You have to look no further than Silicon Valley. During the past year a slew of tech companies including Google, Microsoft, Intel, eBay, and Salesforce published their diversity representation numbers, and to no great surprise, they were abysmal? Why did they choose to publish them? Because they knew they were bad. And in all crisis management, it is better to get ahead of an issue rather than play defense. These firms released information on the makeup of their workforce along with initiatives to become more diverse.

Sadly most companies fail even the simplest of tests.

Do this: Click on your company’s website and go to the Diversity Page. Chances are you will see happy smiling faces of all cultures and genders saying wonderful things about the company. Now simply click on the Executive Team. Chances are 85% of the faces looking back at you are men. Now ask yourself this question. If I’m a bright talented woman or minority do I see people like myself in leadership? Do I think I’ll have a chance to move up and be equitably treated? Now, go to Glassdoor.com and see what employees are saying about your company and its leadership team.

Take the Lead. Get Ahead of the Curve.

If you haven’t already written and articulated a Women’s Leadership Strategy, chances are you’re a few steps behind your key competitors. As with all business initiatives, if your organization has not stated its position or done something formally about it, you may already be in catch-up mode. And when you’re striving for ‘share of mind’ in a highly connected world, being first and highly vocal is critical to being on top of the message and a leader in the marketplace.

  • Do the vast sea of consumers and your actual customers really care if Procter & Gamble is ahead of Kraft on some diversity list? Do they care if ConAgra is even on the list?
  • Will Deloitte and Accenture attract less consulting clients or be able to recruit best in class talent because they trail PwC in diversity programs and initiatives?
  • Do the senior leadership teams at Hilton, Hyatt, and Starwood really care if Marriott is ahead of them on the list and has been so for the past five years?

The answer is YES! Everything communicates.

It is critical that you walk the talk. The organization knows immediately if senior leadership gets it and walks the talk.

In fact, the #1 driver of a successful women’s leadership strategy is CEO commitment.

Not just lip service which the company will see through in a moment but visible committed leaders. When formulating your Integrated Women’s Leadership Strategy, the why and how of Company Reputation needs to be examined with utmost attention.

You need to have clear communications strategies for both internal and external stakeholders.

There is a critical need to get the communications plans right. This helps the organization to answer the question, Why are we doing this?

YWomen Integrated Women's Leadership Strategy Framework

YWomen Integrated Women’s Leadership Strategy Framework

External Communications:

  • An integrated external communications plan is critical to telling your story to consumers, customers, prospective employees, and investors.
  • It’s the final vector that cuts across the entire model.
  • It’s a comprehensive plan that takes into account the strategic roles of all of your communications, including advertising, public relations, and social media.
  • It combines them to provide clarity of message, consistency of message, and maximum communication impact.

Internal Communications:

This is critical as your entire integrated communications plan is built on your CEO’s and senior leadership’s commitment. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Internally with employees and externally with key stakeholders, does your CEO and senior leadership team have the succinct sound bites to tell the organization why we are doing this women’s thing?
  • Do they own the message and is it in their words or just corporate speak? Employees will know in a nanosecond if something is genuine or not.

Your Women’s Leadership Strategy

If you want to learn more about you can craft these internal and external messages and how to protect your company’s reputation, I have more insights in my book, Why Women. To buy the book, click here.

You can also read my strategies on crafting an Integrated Communications Plan and tips on creating a written, measurable women’s advancement plan that can move from concept to implementation.

Can’t wait to get started? Download Why Women Chapter 1 to get started today.

Jeffery Tobias Halter is the country’s leading male expert on advancing women and engaging men. He is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company focused on engaging men in women’s leadership issues. Jeffery is a TEDx speaker, Huffington Post Blogger and the author of two books, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men and Selling to Men, Selling to Women. Keep in touch @YWomen.