📅 26th September 2018 | Diversity
A culture of cover-ups
The UK has the third lowest GDP growth rate in the EU but there is one industry that is bucking the trend. Cosmetic surgery. This is showing growth rates year on year of 2% as women and also men patch up bodily realities.
The yen to cover up problems has insinuated another area of activity too, Diversity Management. Reports keep stressing the high percentage of women on FTSE 100 boards – running now at about a third – while papering over the tiny proportion of women, under 10%, that have risen through the ranks to become executive directors. Executive directors can influence decision-making and organizational cultures far more effectively than non-executive directors because they are on the inside track.
The woeful shortage of female non-executive directors is very likely a factor in the slow of rate of growth in Britains’ GDP. The reason? Women are responsible for 83% of purchases and sales and for as long as women are not involved in shaping of products and services directed at them, the formulation of these products will be suboptimal. I speak as someone who over the years has conducted experiments testing men and women’s preferences as between objects designed by men and women. Over and over again men and women show an astonishingly high preference for the designs created by their own gender. The results hold good for tests in the UK and five other countries and in all cases, the statistics are off the wall.
These studies could be a wake-up call for industry to adjust its demographics and involve women more in the talent pipeline, particularly in Design and Marketing and HR that can assist in developing appropriate selection procedures and agile cultures. Otherwise, women are destined to select from the current merchandise, much of which is created with an eye to men’s preferences since they are the ones in the decision-making seats.
Example? You have only to look at Interior Design to see the male influence. Out went soft floor surfaces and furnishings and in came angular chairs, oversize sofas and bare floors. Modernist brutalist is the current zeitgeist and if you want something more feminine – as I do – you have to modify everything on sale.
The effort involved to create a feminine interior in today’s times is beyond heroic. When I renovated my home I repainted an IKEA tables and chairs (repainting in light-coloured and black satin – some of the IKEA furniture shows the wood grain which did not appeal) searched high and low for a petite sofa with rounded edges and then had this upholstered alongside other chairs. Out went the bare wooden floors and in with the wall-to-wall carpet – wonderful to behold – and the final touch were polka dot-covered cushions bedecked with bows. Needless to say, these were a product of imagination rather than any high street retailer.
Great sales relies on great organisational cultures that adapt themselves to markets. The first step is understanding the customer demographic and then shaping the inside of the organisation to match that.
This is not the place to shame organisations but the fact that there are only 7 CEOs of FTSE 100 companies speaks volumes. The avid reader is invited to research the boards selling to primarily female markets in the grocery, beauty and furniture sectors. Arm yourself for a shock however since in the majority of cases, particularly with household name companies, there are scarcely any women on these boards, let alone in Marketing.
Do contact us at the Sales Rainmaker on 020 3303 3172 to discover simple ways of connecting with customer preferences and boosting sales.
Gloria Moss is the author of ‘Gender, Design and Marketing’ and ‘Why men like straight lines and women like polka dots’. Her new book on ‘Inclusive Leadership’ and how this can help customer-centricity will be available in March 2019 from Routledge.