2015 Essay Topics
Applicants must submit a 2,500-word essay on one of the following topics.
Career Growth and Flexible Workplace Initiatives
Effective talent management is important for developing and retaining high potential employees, regardless of gender. A study by the global consulting firm, Mercer, indicates that traditional programs aimed at developing female talent through flexibility, such as adjustable work hours and leave programs, may actually slow the advancement of women in the future and lead to complacency within organizations on the issue of gender equity. Given these challenges, how can companies improve current programs or develop new programs in order to promote flexibility without jeopardizing the career development of women?
Men in the Game: How to Make Gender Diversity an Enterprise-Wide Effort
In their “Women Matter 2013” report, McKinsey & Company cites having a corporate culture that supports gender diversity as one of two key drivers of gender equity within organizations. According to United States Department of Labor statistics from the 2013 population survey, men have greater representation in the workforce, with 69.7% of working age men participating in the national workforce as compared to only 57.2% of women. As such, in your opinion, what role can men specifically play in developing more women leaders in business? Design a possible program or set of programs that companies and organizations could use to gain the support of male employees and build a unified effort to improve gender balance and enhance productivity in the workplace.
When Employees Thrive, Businesses Thrive
Research continues to reinforce the connection between employee wellbeing and company performance. Employees who feel that their needs are met – physical, mental, and beyond – are more likely to be engaged; according to a 2012 study by Towers Watson, companies with high levels of employee engagement show a 19% increase in operating income. Various factors, including the greater tendency of women to be family caregivers, can require different support in the workplace for men and women. Consider some of the unique needs of women employees, especially financial acumen and healthcare needs. Develop a program that companies can use to more effectively address one of these needs and to improve the likelihood of retaining more women in leadership.
Developing Key Competencies in the Next Generation of Leaders
In a recent study by Development Dimensions International, today’s executives identify three main competencies needed to be successful in top-level positions, namely the ability to think strategically, to lead change, and to create and rally others around a vision. These competencies require a base level of confidence that is developed long before individuals enter the workforce. Analyze how policies, such as Title IX, aimed at creating equal opportunity for young women in educational institutions, have impacted confidence in women and consequently female representation in the workforce. What strategies can be used to instill in young girls the confidence necessary to develop key leadership competencies later in life?
P&L Responsibility Gap among Female Leaders
Although trends show increasing numbers of women on boards and in top management positions, the increase in representation may in some ways overstate the gains made by women in the workplace. In their 2014 “Gender 3,000” study, Credit Suisse cites that within senior management, women represent 18.9% of senior managers in shared services as opposed to only 3% of CEOs. Shared services positions typically offer less influence, less P&L responsibility, and less opportunity to advance to the most senior positions. Research some of the key factors leading to the underrepresentation of women leaders in P&L roles and discuss what companies can do internally to help woman prepare for and enter these roles.