One of the first reactions of a Trump victory will be the question will hurt or even hinder women's leadership advancement in corporate America and was Hillary's loss in part because the country is not ready for a female president. While the pundits will analyze this election for years, as a corporate gender strategist I do not believe that either of these will significantly impact the current initiatives businesses are implementing to advancing women in corporate business.
Regarding Hillary's loss, a Trump victory was a vote for change in a very broken Washington. Trump beat not only Hillary but he also fought his own party to be successful. Given the fact that she won the popular vote, I do believe that the country is ready for a female president and that Hillary got caught up in a perfect storm of a country that is demanding change and ultimately it cost a woman the Presidency.
What a Trump victory means for women's leadership advancement in business
- In the short-term, corporate America will need to find its footing on a number of fronts given that Trump is an unknown. But business has to go on and it will. His Presidency in the short-term will hurt earnings. But Corporate America is facing a significant war for talent that can't be ignored. With boomers retiring at the rate of 10,000 a day -- women and minorities are poised to assume a larger share of the workforce. Additionally, women control7 trillion of the economy through the purchasing and influencing of everything bought and sold at retail. Women are not going to stop shopping at Target, Kroger or online because of a Trump Presidency.
- This victory was driven by working class white men. This reinforces the need to have active male engagement. According to a 2016 Mercer Study - When Women Thrive, Business Thrive, (583 Companies, 42 Countries, 3.2 MM Employees), data found that engagement in company Diversity and Inclusion initiatives were lowest among two groups; Middle Management 39 percent Male Employees 38 percent. Companies need to use this as a time to re-engage the value of inclusion training and use it as a springboard for discussion about the changing workforce. Even though we use words like inclusion training, white males, who are still the majority of workers, struggle to understand and embrace these dynamics.
- Trump supporters were willing to vote for him despite his long history of offensive remarks about women--not to mention the many allegations of sexual harassment and assault that have been brought against him. This type of behavior is not tolerated in corporate America. As we've seen recently, companies are moving more quickly to address sexual harassment in the workplace by removing the accused.
Businesses will do what they need to do to be successful and progressive companies will still be pushing the envelope to create real change and opportunities for women and minorities. The corporate value that can be gained from a diversity and inclusion standpoint is worthwhile. And so companies must chose to engage in this work and double-down on conversations about gender and race and use this moment as an opportunity for meaningful dialogue. Women's leadership at the highest levels of organizations is still just 15 percent. That number did not change under the most pro-female president ever in President Obama. Given the tailwinds for women and minorities in Corporate America, I actually predict a slight increase in women in the CEO and Senior Leadership ranks in the Fortune 500 in the next four years.
Jeffery Tobias Halter is a corporate gender strategist. The country's leading expert on engaging men to advance women, Jeffery is the President of YWomen, a strategic consulting company and author of the book "WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men."