Women: it’s not diversity, it’s the future.

by Steve Denning for Forbes, March 3rd, 2011.

At a conference organized by The Economist last September, Massimo d’Amore Chief Executive Officer, PepsiCo Beverages Americas, Pepsico [PEP] outlined the impact having of a female CEO. This brought to light some staggering imbalances in Pepsico’s hiring practices. It turned out that 90% of the buyers of Pepsico’s products were women, but most of Pepsico’s buyers had been men. As a result of the discovery of this mismatch, there had been massive staffing changes to Pepsico’s buyers to get more balance between the gender of the customers and the gender of the buyers. It was obvious that a wholly-male workforce of buyers would be less likely to understand the needs of customers who were 90% women. This wasn’t an issue of diversity as much as it was an issue of competence.

The incident sheds light on Women’s History Month, as the article of fellow Forbes contributor Ali Brown helpfully reminds us. The White House released a report yesterday entitled Women in America: Indicators of Social and Economic Well-Being, a statistical portrait showing how women are faring in the United States today and how their lives have changed over time.

The report reveals that women are working more than ever before and the number of women and men in the labor force has about equalized in recent years. 27% of working wives out-earned their husbands in 2008, compared with 18% in 1988. In general, shockingly, women still earn only 80 cents per dollar that men earn in comparable positions. (continue reading… )

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