Why gender balance makes us stronger

At Hotwire (and the other Expedia Inc companies), one of our overarching goals is to increase our female leadership talent. As a part of this commitment, we are joining in on the International Women’s Day celebrations by hosting a leadership panel this March 8th focused on Balance and Innovation. Our panelists, leaders whose companies span multiple industries, will be sharing their experiences pushing for gender parity and inciting change.

 

In preparation for the event, we’ve asked each of our employees to think about International Women’s Day’s theme this year, Be Bold for Change, to see how they can apply it in their own lives. Our president, Henrik Kjellberg, took on the challenge first. Here, he outlines his own thoughts & commitments to bolder change:

 

We all know there is a “feel-good” factor to gender balance. While this an important consideration, the following reasons also drive me to be consistently passionate about the subject:

  • More balanced teams are proven to produce better results over time. In fact, a 2016 Sodexo study showed that teams with male-female ratios between 40-60% produce results that are more sustained & predictable than those of unbalanced teams.
  • I am a big believer in role models. Company leadership positions need to be diverse so that all employees see the potential for advancement, no matter their background.
  • In today’s workplace, there are also potentially massive downsides to not addressing inclusiveness in the workplace, as witnessed by recent events. Consumers can and will turn against companies that don’t prioritize equality & diversity.

 

Up until a conference I attended last year, I took a fairly laissez-faire approach to inclusiveness. I consider myself open-minded but didn’t think I had to be bold. But I was wrong. As a leader, I have to actively participate in driving this issue at all levels of the company. I now feel I have an obligation to move this issue forward. Here are some actions I have taken that have contributed to Hotwire’s inclusive efforts:

  • Attend as many WELL [Women at Expedia Learning & Leading] meetings as I can.
  • Do skip-level 1-1’s with all female directors and above.
  • Push for much better reporting of promotions, interview loops and candidate pools so we can drive this at a granular level.
  • Make it a recurring topic of conversation in company communications, such as in our monthly All Hands or our International Women’s Day panel.

 

But no matter how much I try, change cannot be accomplished alone. According to IWD, even with our current progress, the gender gap won’t be closed until 2186! So, my question for everyone today is: what can you do to be bolder?

 

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