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This continues my series on the business case for retaining and engaging women at work. The business case is:

  • “why you should care” that women leave their jobs in the business world at a greater rate than men and
  • “what’s in for you” if you build a workplace culture that retains and engages women.

The first element of the business case, covered in my last blog post, is that gender diversity is good for business. The second element is about attracting and leveraging the best talent.

 This one is simple. You want to hire the best talent available in the pipeline. The talent pipeline reflects almost perfect gender balance. According to the 2009 Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything (available at ), a full 50% of today’s workforce is women. (Catalyst puts the percentage at 46.7% in 2010.) So the talent pool for most jobs will include women. It would be bad business (not to mention against the law) to select from only half of that pool.

 In the educated pipeline, women are represented at even higher rates. In the 2007-08 school year, women earned 62.3% of associated degrees, 57.3% of bachelor’s degrees, 60.6% of master’s degrees and 51% of doctoral degrees. Women earned 49.7% of professional degrees (medical, dental and legal). (See The Condition of Education 2010, IES National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education, available at

 With this gender-diverse hiring pool, a greater percentage of your employees will inevitably be women. You want to engage the people you hire so that they do their best work and want to stay and give you a return on your investment in them. So leaders simply must be able to engage and leverage the talents of women as well as men.

 Businesses that earn a reputation for being a good place for women to work find it easier to attract good women candidates. Businesses with high turnover of women (we’ll explore this element of the business case in my next post) find it harder to recruit women. Job candidates look at who is in your workplace, who is being promoted, who is satisfied and who is leaving. Women are attracted to workplaces where there is some assurance that they will feel valued and have the opportunity to grow, develop and contribute fully.

Do you have experiences—either as the person hiring or the person being hired—that illustrate this element of the business case?