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Today we’re commemorating International Women’s Day, with a spotlight on gender diversity and a focus on the gender-balanced workplace. International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity through impartiality and equality.

At IFS, when we talk about a ‘balanced workplace’, we also consider race, sexual orientation, ability, and age. I’m proud to say we’re wholly committed to having a balanced workplace for all our employees. But I’m also going to be frank: while I’m proud of our progress, that doesn’t mean we’ve got it all figured out just yet.

When we think about today’s celebration, and our role as a corporate citizen in bringing about the change this movement seeks, we need to look at where we’ve progressed and where we still have work to do. For example, from 2017 to 2018 IFS saw a 52 percent improvement in total group managers across the company. It’s fair to say we’ve made strides, but I know we can continue to improve our own numbers.

How will we continue in this endeavor? It’s not easy to break with long-standing norms, but we believe there are three pillars to affecting sustainable change in gender balanced workplaces: commitment to transparency, female (and diverse) leadership, a supportive company culture.

A Commitment to Transparency

More than ever, people demand transparency from organizations in both the private and public sectors. Transparency is more than a trend. It’s a requirement of doing business in the modern age, and a tool for organizations to improve employee morale and relations through an equal and balanced workplace.

We know transparency-inspired-trust is part of building a better future for our employees and is ultimately a key way to increase average tenure.

At IFS, we strive to inspire and encourage trust with our employees. We know maintaining the trust of our employees impacts their satisfaction, engagement and motivation, which in turn has a direct correlation with the satisfaction of our own customers.

If we look at prime benchmarks like the most recent report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, we know the workforce in the Information Technology sector is comprised of 21.9 percent women. Looking at the proportion of women in the global IFS workforce, the percentage of women improved to 33 percent in 2018, up from 26 percent in 2017.

Also, within IFS, we derive inspiration from operations like IFS in the Nordics, where the group is comprised of 46 percent women. And last year IFS in Sri Lanka secured 41 percent of new hires as women.

Female Leadership

Providing for a gender balanced workplace is the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense. According to McKinsey & Company, organizations in the top quartile for gender diversity outperform their competitors by 15 percent and those in the top quartile for ethnic diversity outperform their competitors by 35 percent.

In a 2017 study by investor firm Morgan Stanley, the research pointed to a positive relationship between equity returns and gender composition of the employee base. Specifically, companies which ranked in the top third in terms of female leadership performed (on average) at least 2 percent better than the bottom two-thirds. The same study also noted that, over a 6-year period, companies with more gender diversity tended to have a higher level of forward one-year return-on-equity.

IFS has seen real transformation in the past 12 months, including the increase of women in management roles. A senior executive team that once included one female, is now complete with five female leaders, comprising over 40 percent of the executive management team. In 2018, IFS saw its license revenues increase 23 percent year over year, more than 3 times the ERP industry average growth. I’m convinced that our mission to build a truly diverse team, both in background and in expertise, showed in our results.

I also think it’s important to call out that, yes, IFS is proud to demonstrate progress in the gender diversity of its management and other employee bases. But we do not appoint leaders based on gender alone. Excellence doesn’t distinguish between genders. Rather, it recognizes talent and work ethic. We operate in this way to empower all employees with leadership from the best and brightest in the industry.

Support Equal Opportunities for All in the Workplace

To be sustainable, the creation of a balanced workplace must be about more than social media-worthy optics. To last, a balanced workplace must be underwritten by a company culture that insists on inclusion, acceptance and the recognition that diversity offers better viewpoints and fosters productivity.

So, in honor of International Women’s Day, IFS was inspired to revitalize its Global Equal Opportunities Statement and I’m proud to share what we stand for: Our company culture and our people are the things that differentiate us from our competitors. IFS recognizes that fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce fuels our innovation and connects us closer to our customers and the communities we serve.   

Needless to say, IFS will continue the honest work to make inclusion and equality a company-wide priority and reality. I hope you’ll join me in this charge.

Take Action

International Women’s Day isn’t about special treatment for women. It’s about equal treatment for women – and all other ‘walks of life’ for that matter. IFS is committed to doing more for a balance for better.

To support International Women’s Day and equality in the workplace, tag @IFSworld on Twitter and LinkedIn while striking the better for balance pose using #IWD2019 and #BalanceForBetter all year long!

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Photographer: PeathegeeInc

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