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Innovation and idea generation are the top outcomes from gender diversity

Deloitte's International Women's Day survey

Singapore, 8 March 2013 – According to Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited's (DTTL) fifth annual International Women's Day (IWD) webcast survey, innovation and idea generation are the most significant advantages to organisations that embrace inclusive leadership to improve gender diversity (49 percent of respondents), followed by increased employee engagement (28 percent), and greater retention and advancement of women (15 percent).

The survey of 720 business leaders from 42 countries across Asia, Europe, and the Americas explored the concept of inclusive leadership – behaviors, policies and practices designed to successfully manage diversity and allow for greater inclusion – and its impact on improved gender equality and organisational performance.

Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said inclusive leadership is a key area of focus for their organisation. However, 41 percent felt the main barrier to inclusive leadership was a failure by organisations to recognise the return on investment from having a diverse workforce.

Vanessa Borchers, Global Diversity Leader, DTTL, comments: "The survey respondents indicated that companies that recognise the importance of gender diversity will reap the rewards. Traditional approaches to diversity are getting women in the door and fostering retention and development, but we are still not seeing women advance to leadership positions quickly enough."

"Inclusion is a critical element required to better empower and advance women to top-level positions in the private and public sectors. It is also important to involve men in the conversation, and continually challenge long-held assumptions and traditional ways of working in order to accelerate progress. Businesses simply will not be able to remain competitive and innovative if they do not employ a diverse workforce," said Borchers.

In addition to the survey, webcast panelist Penny Low, Singapore Member of Parliament spoke on the need for organisations to make collective decisions in their corporate policies for the inclusion of women. Low, who is also the President and Founder of Social Innovation Park Ltd, felt that bold moves such as legislating flexi-work arrangements are required to augment the current social economic structure in Singapore: "The Government should provide support and incentives to women and to employers who help create windows of opportunities for women, such as pro family guidelines and methods that corporates can adopt."

Participants also heard from webcast panelist Gianmarco Monsellato, CEO of Taj, a law firm in France and a member of the Deloitte network and finalist for the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEP) Leadership Awards in the Business Case for Action Award 2013 category. Monsellato, who spoke about the importance of providing equal career opportunities for women, is being recognised for his drive to improve gender diversity and transform the Taj culture.

"There are no diversity programs at Taj. We just do diversity. There is no difference between the work men and women do here; everyone is treated like a professional; this is just how we do business," said Monsellato.

In eight years, Taj experienced significant success in the French legal sector both in terms of reputation and organic growth—rising from a second-tier firm to a market leader and growing 70 percent in a tough economy. Today, 52 percent of the women at Taj are in management positions; 50 percent women are equity partners; and 50 percent of women are in executive roles.

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Marie Li
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Deloitte Singapore
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Marketing & Communications
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