It’s great that women are buying more technology than ever before, but tech companies can’t sit back: they should be focusing their energy on getting the most out of this flourishing market.
That’s why every chief executive should be made aware of the following stat: tech companies with more women on their management teams have a 34% higher return on investment.
The reasons are obvious. Diversity is important in any industry, but is especially relevant when it comes to technology. Tech is the way that world talks to each other. People have never emailed, liked, commented, called, messaged and tweeted more than we are doing right now. And guess what? Half of all those people are women.
The days of gadgets being boys’ toys are dead as the dodo. The majority of tech products must be developed to appeal to as many people as possible, of either gender. For that, there can be no room for guesswork. Men and women must both be in the room.
It’s not that we believe women are better or more effective than men – they just simply provide a different point of view, something that is vital when bringing a new product to market.
Pink it, shrink it
Examples of getting it wrong are abundant: A common ‘for-the-ladies’ strategy is to take last year’s product, re-release it at a slightly lower-price point, slightly smaller and clad in pink plastic.
This pink it and shrink it approach represents typically shallow thinking about gender and usually only appeals to younger (lower income) women. Getting design right takes a lot more thought but yields bigger dividends.
According to Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, companies that don’t adopt English as a standard for their entire organization will, at some point, “experience some form of bottleneck.”
“It depends on what the company does, but if you’ll have members in different countries needing to collaborate — whether it’s to integrate technology platforms or cater to customers worldwide — it will become more important that even middle managers and employees with international assignments will need a common language in order to interface with others.”
Airbus, Daimler-Chrysler, Nokia, Renault, Samsung and Microsoft Beijing have all mandated English as their corporate language, writes Neeley in the May 2012 edition of Harvard Business Review — and she says more than 70 Danish companies have now migrated to English.
In 2010, Japanese internet services company Rakuten made headlines when it announced it would become an English-only organization, with all communication, verbal and email, in English.
“English is the only global language,” CEO Hiroshi Mikitani told CNN at the time. “We’re doing a global business. I think this is the only way a Japanese service organization can become a global organization.”
“If you want to become successful in other countries, you need to internationalize the headquarters,” he added.
To help make the transition, Japanese language signage was removed from cafeterias and elevators. Mikitani even conducts performance reviews with his Japanese executives in English, according to Neeley.
Strange Random English Language Quote:
- Time for businesses to go ‘English only?’ (edition.cnn.com)
- When Global Enterprises Go English-Only (globalenglishblog.com)
- Useful, yes. But mandatory? (economist.com)
- West Contra Costa students reach language milestone (mercurynews.com)