Mike Cook had initially assumed that the main reason why women left the workforce in greater numbers was due to family commitments. However, despite the strategies implemented in the 1980s to hire more talented women and ensuring that there was no glass ceiling for women in the firm, the statistics in 1991 proved that the previous solutions were not adequate and that the firm was incurring huge expenses due to the high rate of turnovers.
Thus in 1992, a Task Force was formed whereby the firm hired outside consultants to find out why women were not advancing at the same rate as men, and why they were leaving at a higher percentage rate. After much investigations and interviews, the Catalyst report showed that the top two reasons for their departure was because the women had perceived that there was a male dominated work environment and that opportunities for career advancement was difficult. An imbalance work-life which was perceived by Mike Cook as the main reason was ranked third in importance. Clearly, the management had earlier identified the main reason incorrectly.
When one examines the situation at hand, the firm is in a favorable position to execute the change. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, the critical mass, whom are the partners in the firm are suddenly aware of the real problem the plagues the firm. Engaging the critical mass is crucial as their support for the change is important and their leadership would help transmit effectively the change strategies. Secondly, the firm is presently at the third stage of the development process, whereby they have diagnosed correctly the exact problem. In addition, Lois Evans, one of the top-ranked women in the firm had similarly echoed that the current work environment was a crappy place for any woman to be. By identifying the precise problem, the organisation can now tackle more effectively and implement the appropriate solutions to change the male dominated corporate culture.
Changing a corporate culture is extremely difficult and this in my opinion is the biggest restraining force. The challenge for any organization is how to reinforce people in changing an old culture that has lasted for so long. The key to the success is not to impose cultural changes, but to facilitate an environment whereby employees are involved in finding their own new approaches to change. Another major restraining force that might occur is that many male employees might sense a threat in their positional power. In addition, many male workers might start wondering whether these changes would benefit them, and would start questioning the strategies suggested by the Task Force which seems to favor women only. The organization at present is still not accustomed in seeing women in positions of power and thus by developing leadership platforms for women such as an advisory council might bring about suspicion and insecurity for the men.
In examining the recommendations suggested by the Task Force, I do agree that the firm should hold workshops and seminars to educate and communicate to the employees that men and women are colleagues . I would suggest that during these workshops, change agents should inform the male workers their subtle actions and words can actually create an unwelcome culture for women. Insensitive comments that make women feel uncomfortable in the workforce should also be avoided. For example, statements such as someone working part-time is not interested in the career or she has kids, maybe he should handle the international assignments should not be made formally, as well as in an informal setting. In addition, managers should also learn to avoid gender stereotypes that women are incapable to handle challenging assignments simply because they are mothers. Therefore by increasing the awareness of the dangers of stereotyping, male employees would understand and be more acceptable when they recognize and see major changes in the work environment that might favor women employees.
I similarly agree with the Task Force that the firm should build goals in their business planning and provide directional goals for women in leadership . Defining the criteria to measure and monitor progress for women is also crucial. This is because better information and improving access to career development and training opportunities are significant ways in educating the women their route of advancement. It is obvious that if you do know what is available, the possibility of you attempting to take part would be much higher. Thus it is important to ensure that women receive the same opportunities as men and this can be solved by designing a program to monitor the promotion rates among women and men.
I would therefore suggest that the Human resource department have a program that tracks work assignments to ensure that women at Deloitte & Touche are considered for premier clients and projects at equal rates as their male counterparts. Offices should be evaluated annually, ensuring women are being offered fair shots at career-advancing assignments. Another solution is to include women as assessors and to ensure that they are included on senior promotion interview boards. However, one should be cautious and avoid achieving a fix quota. The firm must highlight that equality and meritocracy still exists in the workplace between men and women. This is crucial so that the firm would avoid to be seen as promoting a women-favored environment only.
Besides the listed solutions in the case study, there are further considerations that Mike Cook might need to consider. Firstly, it is important to have a policy that is clear to the staff within the organization. Moreover, identifying the right people within the firm to implement the policies is vital as electing change agents who might unconsciously or consciously disagree with the new corporate philosophy might in return sabotage the whole change process rather than aid it. Secondly, the creation of a positive environment has to start with the chief executive officer and the leaders, and they must set the example in creating an atmosphere of encouragement for the women. The management must also be prepared to provide sufficient resources for the training and development of women.
Thirdly, in the creation of a flexible work environment for women as recommended by the Task Force, the challenge the organization face is to dispel myths that the only way a worker can contribute and have the potential for career advancement is on accumulating work hours or face time. While the management should allow women to work at home on occasional periods, and be connected to the work site via a computer through tele-working, the complexity of have this flexible work environment or working from home is in the method of supervision. Managers therefore need to plan and prepare for the experience of tele-work and develop appropriate communication and accountability strategies. Managers should also be respectful to the employee and their personal workspace and have to be careful not to neglect the worker, causing them to fall into the out of sight trap.
In conclusion, Deloitte & Touche is in a good position in sustaining and implementing the change process. This is because the firm has correctly identified the root problem and possess a strong Task Force in recommending sound strategies. However, the firm must still be aware of possible restraining forces and also take time to set the right policies and choose the correct change agents within the firm to spearhead this change process. Managers should also be aware of the difficulties in having a flexible work environment, and thorough research and planning should be invested into this program so that they are better prepared to handle the transition.