Fixing the “pyramid problem” (that women aren’t proportionally represented at the upper levels of business) would enable businesses to avoid significant costs and capture significant upsides. But changing organizational culture and unconscious preferences can only occur if there is a solid business case. There is. The business case for building an inclusive cultures includes facts showing that inclusive cultures: (1) have higher customer satisfaction and profits; (2) have lower turnover; (3) have an easier time recruiting; (4) get better decisions, and (5) have the ability to tap the multicultural marketplace. The business case for gender diversity in leadership adds to this: (1) companies with gender diversity at the top get higher returns, (2) the hiring pool is half women and the educated pool is more than half women; (3) it opens the huge women’s market, and (4) it has the biggest “bang for the buck.”
Business has a “pyramid problem.” Women aren’t proportionally represented in upper levels. This isn’t just a problem for women. It imposes unnecessary costs on business and deprives them of significant upsides. The business case for gender diversity provides compelling reasons to fix this problem. What causes women to leave (or just stop climbing)? The causes are unconscious and invisible. Solution comes from recognizing that barriers for women arise from the “comfort principle” and from failure of leaders to appreciate masculine-feminine differences.