The onset of International Women’s Day (IWD) 2020 celebrates the achievements of women in raising awareness against bias and action for equality. For organizations like Ricoh, IWD is an important reminder to assess how well they can continue to support and drive a more gender equal world within the workplace.
Over the years, Ricoh has committed towards achieving a better balance in the representation of women in and across its leadership roles. And while this journey continues to refine and drive change, ongoing initiatives across the organization remain both implicit and explicit.
In the Leaders & Daughters global survey1, 74% of women aspire to be reach executive leadership ranks. But how can organizations ensure that the proverbial glass ceiling many female leaders have encountered throughout their careers is no longer a reality for their millennial and generation z successors?
Understand your corporate values
The first place to start is your organization’s corporate values. The literal meaning of the Ricoh value GEMBA is ‘the actual place, the place where things happen and the place where work gets done and where value is created’. As such, every Ricoh employee (both male or female) owns their GEMBA towards driving positive change and progression for themselves. GEMBA encourages everyone to be aware of their individual challenges and aspirations in order to learn and grow.
Living by GEMBA inspires Ricoh’s female employees to feel supported in their efforts to progress their careers and to be fairly represented. Likewise, Ricoh is especially mindful that the female experience will naturally be different given its history as a traditionally male dominated workforce. The key is in ensuring that the conversations within Ricoh are first and foremost inclusive.
Know your employee population
When assessing the opportunities for female empowerment and growth, all organizations must intuitively understand and know its employee population. Is your organization aware of how many females there are in leadership roles vs non-leadership roles? By creating an in-depth understanding of your employee demographics, gaps in diversity can be identified on an overall basis.
Diversity at Ricoh is measured through an employee self-identification questionnaire. Having a better understanding of the different attributes of diversity across the organization is valuable for succession planning exercises for future leadership roles. Leaders are habitually encouraged to ask themselves questions like, ‘Do we have candidates from all different backgrounds?’ and if not, ‘Are we looking further along the pipeline to see where we can invest in employees to move them forward?’
When it comes to sourcing new talent outside of the organization, Ricoh has made a concerted effort towards shifting its focus on gender for what would have traditionally been atypical male roles for e.g. Sales Representatives or Service Technicians. All job descriptions are now written using gender neutral language so that every candidate is reviewed fairly, and females are provided the opportunity to apply for roles they may have not considered before.
From an internal perspective, does your workplace culture value and support the development of female talent and their expertise? At Ricoh, Glenn Laverty (President and CEO) hosts quarterly round table sessions to capture the insights and perspectives of its female leaders. By doing so, the female leadership team can freely voice their feedback in an open manner.
Mentorship programs are highly encouraged for female employees in non-leadership roles. With reference to the ethos of GEMBA, high potential female employees at Ricoh are encouraged to seek influential mentors that can support and guide their long-term career goals. Resources are provided for both mentors and mentees to ensure that the mentor-mentee relationship is the right fit.
Engage in strategic partnerships
Think about how your organization can support other partner organizations committed to promoting diversity and addressing inequality. Driving change can harness greater impact if partnered with others with the same vision or goals.
As part of Ricoh’s support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), its focus on SDG #10 (reduced inequalities) led Ricoh to join the Business for Inclusive Growth (B4IG) – a coalition bringing together 34 leading multinationals with more than 3 million employees worldwide. All member organizations pledged to tackle persistent inequalities of opportunity, reduce regional disparities and fight gender discrimination.
Celebrate the accomplishments of your female workforce
How does your organization celebrate the accomplishments of its female talent and the contributions they make towards the success of your organization? The significance of celebrating International Women’s Day for Ricoh in the past three consecutive years has resonated with employees, partners and customers alike.
This year, Ricoh embarked on a strategic partnership with Women of Influence in celebrating Canada’s Top 25 women of Influence. The partnership also provided the opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of Ricoh’s female leaders including Nathalie Pougno, Barbara Marinoni and Heather Loisel. Ricoh will also celebrate IWD with internal events including a customer event, a female panel event (women learning from women) and live learning and discussions.
While today’s workplace continues to champion female leadership and empowerment, women should never be afraid to raise their hand for new opportunities and say, “I’m ready.”
However, women by nature are less likely to raise their hand unless they are 100% certain and that’s when it’s important to identify your strengths. Ricoh’s ethos of GEMBA combined with is workplace culture encourages all employees to identify their strengths on a weekly basis using the Standout platform. Standout acts a tool for every employee to identify their strengths to their best advantage and drives better engagement with their reporting manager.
From an organization perspective, it’s equally important to understand the characteristics of the employee population and acknowledge that there will be qualified employees who won’t consider raising their hand.
If you’re a female reading this blog that has come to a crossroads in your professional career or is questioning whether it’s time to raise your hand, we asked the female leadership team at Ricoh to share their wisdom in taking control of your GEMBA towards achieving your goals:
“Open communication with leaders and other influencers regarding career aspirations and challenges go a long way to supporting one’s career. Embracing assumptions and beliefs that are career limiting and treating them as facts can limit one’s career progress. I chose to assume the sky is the limit unless the facts dictate otherwise. I find this helps tremendously in driving one’s career.”
Marwa Jazi, Director, Human Resources
“Being a female, you think differently. You get a benefit of being able to bring empathy to a business discussion. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings and your aspirations, be vulnerable, and seek help. There are a lot of people around you who would love to help you. Tap into your emotional intelligence and leverage your natural “soft power”.
Nathalie Pougno, Director, Digital Transformation
“Be visible, put your hand up and lean in. Use your own authentic voice – you don’t have to sound, look and act like the dominant culture to be a leader. In fact, it naturally positions you to be a leader by bringing a different perspective.”
Jennifer Johnson, Vice President, Services Strategy & Innovation
“Don’t wait for a tap on the shoulder for new projects or opportunities – raise your hand. Be confident in what you have to offer and contribute. Let your Manager and others know what your career goals are. Never apologize for speaking up in a meeting, having a strong opinion, or wanting to learn and grow in your career. A man would not!”
Laura McGowan, Director, Portfolio Marketing & Brand Communications
“Be tenacious, don’t be afraid to persevere, have the courage and determination to make your way forward. Most of all, do not be afraid of failure. This is how we learn.”
Barbara Marinoni, National Director, Supply Chain
“The key is to communicate your intentions and goals. Discussions with your immediate Manager (or their Manager) and using your Individual Development Plan are vehicles for progress. They provide you with a voice to your career path as well as the blueprint for you to get there!”
Joanne Cirillo, Director, Financial Solutions