McKinsey is like the philosopher and doctor of the capitalist system. In an environment where consumers are the driving force of the capitalist system, it is a consultancy company that advises to businesses with attractive power on issues they worry about the most, that develops new methods for them, that repairs their failing organs to give them the opportunity to get ahead of their competitors. When McKinsey is saying something or giving some thought to something, the business world listens to it. Aristotle’s quote reminds me of McKinsey: “It is the actions we repeat constantly that make us who we are, so perfection is not an act but a habit.” It’s an important trigger when McKinsey changes its habits and suggestions.

McKinsey has been saying for the last 10 years that women should be more represented in the skill pool. Not only that, but its research studies also show that as women are promoted to the upper levels in hierarchy, the profitability of the company increases and other important elements (such as work commitment, teamwork, efficiency) that indicate a healthy company also get the green light.

Tens, hundreds, maybe thousands of research studies are being conducted to support this data. One of the best known of these studies is the World Economic Forum (WEF) Study. Under the leadership of Laura Tyson, WEF lists countries every year in the social gender equality index, which was launched in 2006. And where do we stand? One step forward, two steps back… Sometimes we go a little further. In November 2016, we were ranked 130th out of 144 countries. When you take a closer look at the elements of this index, it is possible to see the topics such as health and safety, education, contribution to the economy and participation in politics. The lowest rates for our country are observed for contribution to the economy and participation in politics. The rate of contribution to the economy is 34 percent for women (aged 15-64). This is 63 percent in OECD countries (For those wondering, the rate of contribution to the economy for men in the same age group is 77 percent and this is very close to 80 percent which is observed in OECD countries). What would happen if the contribution rate reached the OECD level in our country, and if we could achieve this by 2025, for example? According to a study by the McKinsey Global Institute, in this case, we can achieve a 20 percent increase in expected GDP for 2025. In other words, when we ensure the contribution of women to the economy in addition to existing jobs, the national income, which is estimated as 200 billion dollars, can go up to 250 billion.

The Value Created by Women

McKinsey is conducting a research study called “Women Matter” in different parts of the world. The title can be translated into Turkish in a couple of different ways. It’s an expression that could mean “Woman Issue”, “Woman Is Important” or “Woman Makes Difference” in English. The research results justify the name of the report. These 10 years of research have demonstrated how broad and deeply the subject can be addressed on the one hand, and on the other hand, they prove that teams and workplaces including women contribute to the improvement of performance in terms of many business indicators. Compared to what? Compared to men-only teams and workplaces. Since there are few women-only teams, research studies on them are also very few in number. Researches, though few in number, reveal that the skill pool should be kept wide, the teams should include a variety of skills, talents and thoughts in order to make healthier decisions, and skill is not dependent on gender, and those who make consumption decisions should also be involved in product and service processes. The findings from these research studies also reveal what companies that are best at diversity do and how they do it. According to this, strategic priority or the leader’s attitude towards this issue is the most important factor. In order to trigger change, a holistic program should also be put forward. And the third success factor in ensuring diversity is stable practices supported by communication works.

McKinsey conducted this research study in Turkey and published it recently. 102 companies participated in the research. Thus, we have become the country with the highest company participation ever. This is an important indicator. To participate means to have a say, to be curious about things and to be open to learning. It is extremely pleasing that our leading companies show such awareness and willingness. Behind the high participation rate lie the access network of TUSIAD and McKinsey Turkey, their credibility in this network, and the persistent pursuit of the project team. Research results, available through the link provided at the end of the article, include other pleasing findings as well as those that are thought-provoking and inviting to action. These findings clearly call for signature presence.

Where Do We Stand?

Where do we want to stand in the cycle of “realize, accept, select, execute”? We, the decision makers in the business world or those who stand very close to them, can feel responsible and act on this issue. Of course, we can also choose to do the opposite and get caught up in the daily flow. The relief created by this flow can attract us. We can make this decision unknowingly or deliberately, perhaps thinking that we will not have an impact. Responsibility can be daunting. A question mark appears when one says responsibility. What does it include? Is it necessary to move mountains or to carry the entire world?

Paulo Coelho says in his book called “Warrior of the Light”:

The Latin stem of “responsibility” reveals its true meaning: “capacity to respond, to react.” A warrior with a sense of responsibility is someone who has proven his ability to observe and learn. He can even act “irresponsibly”. Sometimes he gets caught up in the course of things. He neither participates in nor reacts to it. A warrior a sense of responsibility is not someone who carries all the burden of the world on his shoulders. He is someone who has learned to deal with the difficulties of the present time.

We make the decisions we make during the day after holding them under several lenses. Our decisions that lead us to results are primarily related to our intentions. And secondly, they are related to behaviors in line with this intention. When we change our lenses, the decisions we make during the day also change. The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra was a male-dominated orchestra until the 1970s. In the music world, as in many other business areas, it took some time for women to take the stage. The Vienna Orchestra hired its first female artist in 1997. The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra intended to do so, but that wasn’t enough. First, they put a curtain between the artists participating in the trials and the jury. In the trials where it was not possible to distinguish between men and women behind the scenes, women still could not stand out. Trying to make sense of this, the management noticed that the jury distinguished whether the participant was a woman or a man from the sound of heels, and this was an unnoticed bias factor that influenced the jury’s decision. They took measures. Then, the number of female artists increased rapidly.

What Does the Research Say?

Similarly, when certain human resources policies are changed in companies and institutions, diversity can be put into practice. “Women Matter Turkey” research is very surprising in this sense. When we look at the results of the research, we see that the ratio of female employees to overall employees in 102 leading companies is 41 percent, which is very close to the best international examples. In this result, the participation of the financial sector, where 56 percent of the employees are women, has a significant impact (excluding this sector, the figure drops down to 30 percent). The second important finding is that as seniority level rises and career journey progresses, the number of women decreases and remains stable at 25 percent in the executive team level (c-suite). This is also high when compared to Asia (8 percent), Latin America (8 percent), USA (17 percent) and even Europe (20 percent). At the CEO level, it is only 15 percent in Turkey.

When we take a closer look, we see that 102 companies allow women to be represented in very different proportions at the management level. In the top 10 companies with the highest number of female employees, the rate of women on the executive board is 53 percent. It drops to 38 percent in the second 15 companies. And in 21 companies that employ the least number of women, the number of women on the executive board is zero. We cannot explain this situation by sectors. Because there are a significant number of women at the executive board level in the construction, energy and automotive sectors, which are known as male-dominant ones. Another interesting point is that only 33 percent of companies put forward gender diversity as one of their top 5 priorities in the company. In addition to that, almost none of them have policies and practices that support the role of women in business life. So, if this issue becomes a priority and is handled with a holistic perspective focusing on policies and practices through a company-specific design with goals, good examples will also come out of Turkey and we can rank higher in the indexes moving from the bottom 10 towards the top 10.

In his book titled “What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: A Memoir”, Murakami disrupts many routines on one hand and points out that we face choices when we consider the process of change both from the perspective of the system and the individual.

“Some processes do not tolerate change no matter what we do. This is how I see it. If we have no choice but to coexist with this process, what we can do is change (or maybe transform) ourselves with a stubborn determination. This consists of making the process a part of our own character. How do you like that!”

On the other hand, he reveals an important signal for the driving force of a process in which the individual can trigger change along with the search for “meaning” of the living organism.

“The metaphor of life (and for him, of writing) is that the individual travels within his/her own limits by burning the energy in himself/herself, albeit a little. A decade with clear goals lived to the fullest is naturally much more desirable than a decade lived without putting two and two together.”

Hoping that you will be inspired by the report and build decades where you will expand your impact area and live to the fullest…