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Written by Kieran Delamont, Associate Editor, London Inc.


Empowering at every level

A new report from Ivey’s Lawrence Centre for Policy and Management outlines how firms can effectively increase female representation

THE MULTI-DECADE EFFORT to increase the representation of women in the workplace has never had a straightforward solution. Often, what works for one firm doesn’t work for another, and different industries face different challenges; it’s one thing to achieve gender parity at a non-profit, and another entirely to achieve gender parity at a construction company, for instance.


That challenge is the subject of a new report from Ivey Business School’s Lawrence National Centre for Policy and Management, which set out to research which strategies are working, which are not, and what companies should be doing now.


“Critics argue that existing HR strategies to increase women’s representation have short-term impact, and serve as window dressing,” the report, titled Trickle-down and Bottom-up Effects on Workplace Gender Diversity, reads.


One of the central questions the research team set out to answer was how to make these gains more durable. They found that where a company focuses its hiring diversity efforts makes a significant long-term difference to outcomes. In male-tilted industries, hiring more women at the middle- and top-level management level is strongly associated with an increase in the number of non-management female employees – the trickle-down effect of the title. Firms in these industries should, the paper argues, focus their efforts on hiring women directly into management roles, and build a pipeline to promote existing employees into management.


Conversely, in more female-tilted industries, focusing on continuing to hire women at the lower levels increases representation in management roles over time. What they found doesn’t work is simply focusing efforts at the highest, most visible jobs. “Oftentimes it is held that recruiting women into top leadership positions will effectively solve the issue of gender composition within an organization,” the report concludes. “This is not true.”


“I’m very encouraged by our findings that hiring more women in non-management positions in these industries leads to a growth of women in lower to middle management,” said Allison Konrad, lead researcher on the paper, speaking to Western News. “These findings show that women’s leadership talent does not flow naturally across the entire pipeline, and that firms must pay attention to career progress for women leaders to diversify their management ranks at all levels, including the very top.”


If everything has changed, why hasnt my office?

A new Cisco study indicates most workers feel positive about return-to-office mandates but the office just isn’t ready for them

THE TUG-OF-WAR OVER returning to the office has been playing out for a couple years at this point, and it’s been widely assumed that it was employees, enamoured with remote work, who have been the sticking point.


To a degree, this is probably true. But a new study from network giant Cisco, which surveyed 4,500 office workers at more than 1,000 companies, found that by 2024 there actually is an appetite for returning to the office ― but that companies are squandering the opportunity by not adapting their workplaces properly.


“Among employees, 74 per cent feel positive about returning to the office,” the Cisco report found, noting that collaboration, brainstorming and a sense of belonging were the three big reasons workers cited. But only one in three feel that the office is actually prepared for the new way of working: 73 percent don’t like the distinction between personal workspaces and collaborative meeting and conference rooms (and very few feel they are productive this way); and 71 per cent felt that the experiences of in-office workers and remote workers were inconsistent with one another.


“Employers recognize a gap, and if they don’t make the office a magnet, they will not be able to mandate people returning to the office,” the report concludes.


According to Cisco, it has stumbled upon data like this before ― namely when they were talking to their own employees about how they should revamp their offices. As best they could, the company tried to put this into practice, cutting down the number of individual workspaces by two thirds, eliminating personal offices and focusing on collaborative flex spaces. Since making the changes, Cisco said, each quarter has seen its in-office attendance double.


“Ignoring these shifts and expecting workers to return to the old ways of working isn’t sitting well with staff,” reports Fortune. Companies recognize this, they said, and chances are, with more companies being set on some form of hybrid work direction, the next few years will see more investment in what the office spaces look like and how they work.


“Eighty-five per cent of employers know that making their workspace fit for the new world of work is key to attracting and retaining talent, [and] 65 per cent of the employers surveyed have plans to update their workspace in the next two years.”

Terry Talks: Why every company needs a workplace social media policy

It’s no secret that social media has become part of most peoples’ daily routines in the last few years. The odds are good that many people employed by your company use social media at some point in the day. In fact, depending on your industry, they may even be engaging on social media as part of their work. In an ideal world, everyone would know exactly when and how to engage on major social networks. But in reality, the norms dictating what’s acceptable are still ill-defined. For employers, this lack of clarity can result in some sticky situations. That’s why it’s a good idea to spell out your company’s expectations and standards in a social media policy.



Chic to be cheap

The rise of loud budgeting: A movement for intentional spending and frugality

IF IT SEEMS like the last few years have put your bank account through the ringer, you’re not alone, even if it always feels that way. Personal finances have long been shrouded in a bit of a veil of secrecy and stigma, but the increased cost of living we’ve seen may have broken that down somewhat, and the latest personal finance TikTok trend ― “loud budgeting” ― is looking to lift that veil once and for all.


“Loud budgeting is a new concept I’m introducing for 2024. It’s the opposite of quiet luxury,” said its progenitor, TikTok-er Lukas Battle. “It’s not, ‘I don’t have enough, it’s ‘I don’t want to spend.’”


Unlike some other personal finance trends of the past year ― we’re looking at you, girl math ― money people actually like this one. “Many people, especially the younger generation, are becoming more and more transparent about money,” said Winnipeg investment adviser Joe Macek. “They are breaking taboos that the previous generations might have had.”


Call it the younger generations trying to take back a sense of control over their financial lives. The challenges millennials and Gen Z face in terms of financial outlooks and literacy are no secret, but it’s only a recent phenomenon that they’re becoming more transparent and open about it. “I think that they’re hungry for financial information, but not because they’re just curious or smarter than generations before them,” former Wall Street Trader-turned financial educator Vivian Tu told CNN. “I think it’s out of a place of necessity.”


There’s a bigger trend at work here, too: a cultural turn away from a luxury-focused marketing machine, one you might expect in an economic downturn. The “Instagram influencer” culture of the 2010s is changing; value consumer culture is on the rise. “It’s the creation of a lifestyle that creates real individual value,” said Yuval Shuminer, CEO of Piere, a budgeting app. “It’s about spending money and allocating resources on what you prioritize in life, and cutting ruthlessly on what you don’t.”


Speaking of work

New data is throwing light on the value of bilingualism in the Canadian private sector. And while demand is temperate, fluency in French is still a powerful asset

IT’S COMMON KNOWLEDGE that bilingualism does grant one a bit of a leg up in the Canadian job market, although outside of government work ― where it’s often a hard requirement ― it’s not always easy to put numbers to it.


Well, Statistics Canada released some new data contained in its quarterly Canadian Survey on Business Conditions last week, looking at how easy ― or hard ― private businesses are finding the challenge of bilingual hiring these days, and the extent of bilingualism requirements on the job market.


The data found that in the private sector, bilingualism is still a relatively rare requirement, with around 15 per cent of businesses listing it for at least some of their positions, nation-wide. But hiring for those roles remains a challenge, with one in six (18.2 per cent) of those businesses saying they expect to run into challenges when it comes to hiring bilingually.


Unsurprisingly, this can be highly regional: in areas where there are fewer French speakers, the challenges increase, and vice versa. (Among the signs that our labour shortage is easing, though, is that last year the same data found that one in four were struggling to hire a bilingual employee).


But that challenge creates opportunity for the right people. For jobseekers, it makes fluency in French a powerful asset. Last fall, the non-profit Information and Communications Technology Council released a report that echoed the message about challenges in recruitment and hiring, but keyed in on the advantages it creates for French speakers.


“French skills offer Ontarians significant labour market advantages, including opportunities for advancement and bilingual salary premiums, if used strategically,” they said. “Low unemployment in the province, along with high demand for French-speaking talent, means that a new French-speaking graduate who is aware of the breadth of their options can leverage their language skills in many occupations.”


Moral of the story? Dust off that French-English dictionary and reactivate that Babbel account ― if you’re planning on looking for a job any time soon, French skills could be a clear asset. 


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