Blog after blog, article after article, research study after research study highlight the gloom and doom of the impending labor shortage and its accompanying talent dearth. They agree that during the next ten years, companies are going to be scrambling to find the talent they need, not just to stay competitive, but in many cases to stay alive.

Yes. It appears we’re heading into the human resources equivalent of a depression. I’ve addressed some of the major causes in previous blogs: baby boomers retiring, population decline and absence of the right skills.

So why am I angry? Because among the plethora of solutions offered, most articles and blogs fail to SPECIFICALLY mention a potential solution that’s right under their noses—nurturing and developing female talent. Of course, it’s implied in catch-all phrases like; “treat your current employees well…” “look at ways to retain your talented employees.”…”competitively recruit new talent.” But that’s not been enough up until now; and there’s no reason to think it will be.

I can’t say this too many times. Women make up 46.8% of the workforce, but only 14.6% of upper management ranks. That’s an unacceptable statistic under any circumstances, but in the face of the looming “perfect storm” of unavailable talent, it’s disastrous. Additionally, the evidence keeps mounting that more C-suite women make for more profitable corporations. Studies by both Catalyst and MIT show that organizations with women on their top teams make smarter decisions. It’s not that the women are necessarily smarter; it’s that the diversely-populated team is smarter.

So, it’s clear. Companies must start looking to their talented women as their most promising resource. Why would they start anywhere else?

I’ve discussed previously the main reasons companies often overlook their female talent: second generation gender bias… failure of women to be their own best advocates… lack of mentors, sponsors and networks focused on women. The point is that all of these issues are addressable and fixable, provided there is a corporate commitment to change.

Some companies are doing exactly that. Their CEO’s and top management are getting the word out that finding, developing and retaining female talent is no longer an option. It’s a corporative imperative. Among their key strategies:

  • Corporate-wide searches for internal female talent
  • Long-term strategies for advancing talented women
  • Re-aligning corporate culture away from “old boy” mentalities
  • Diversity awareness for both men and women
  • Focus on mentoring, networking and sponsorships specifically for female talent
  • Metrics and accountability at all levels

I know this works, because I’ve seen it work with Fortune 1000 companies who partner with us at WOMEN Unlimited. For years they have understand and embraced the benefits to their companies of developing female talent.

I regret the crisis ahead. However, I can only hope that it will serve as the impetus for more and more companies to look to the talented women that have been there all along.

Dr. Rosina L. Racioppi
President & CEO
WOMEN Unlimited, Inc.