Last year the World Economic Forum put gender parity at the top of the agenda at the Annual Meeting in Davos by introducing a new mandate requiring each strategic partner to bring at least one woman among their five delegates.  It signalled an understanding that diverse perspectives and the ability to seek out diverse viewpoints is becoming a business essential. It brought to the debate the idea that an increasingly globalized world demands a new style of inclusive leadership.

Outside of Davos, encouraging best practice diversity and inclusiveness measures will equip businesses to compete in this increasingly globalized world. Organizations that have been quick off the mark in grasping the relationship between inclusive leadership and organizational success can lead by example. It is for this reason that Ernst and Young first became involved in developing, with World Economic Forum, Closing the Gender Gap: A Repository of Successful Practices, which highlights initiatives that have driven measurable progress along the gender gap – from entry level to c-suite. When we found out that the World Economic Forum was planning to work on this repository, we didn’t hesitate to offer one of our talented employees, Kaspar Schluer, as a resource to help build the tool.

I hope the repository will ultimately help accelerate progress by encouraging greater understanding of what has been tried and proven to work at various levels in different organizations and countries. It’s so important that it is a global tool, as what works in one country or one culture won’t necessarily work in others. Talent management issues differ greatly in the developed and rapid growth markets, but one thing holds true: good people are hard to find. Companies must make an effort to ensure a strong and diverse talent pipeline that will provide them with the skills and capabilities to thrive in constantly changing conditions.

Organisations across the world are now seeing women as an emerging market as powerful as China and India. It’s simple; reap the rewards of the broadest pool of talent by equipping women with the right education, training and tools. Then give them visibility through sponsorship. No businessperson would want to ignore half the population in their pipeline of talent and no one can ignore the economic benefits of having more women as entrepreneurs in the supply chain.

The leaders of tomorrow will come from the underrepresented demographics of today and women are a critical element. So with the importance of women as an economic resource being better understood, this repository will be critically important. Global companies now know what works – and knowing is half of the battle.  We look forward to continuing to work with World Economic Forum to build a community around this tool and to collaborate across sectors to share best practice and push for further progress.

Pictured: A woman walks in Madrid’s business district Paseo de la Castellana March 23, 2010. Three decades after the death of dictator General Francisco Franco, the daughters of that generation outnumber men at universities and the government is demanding more women be admitted to the heart of corporate power: the boards of the country’s listed companies. Three years ago, Spain became the first European Union country, the second in the world after Norway , to set companies a deadline — by 2015 — to achieve a gender balance in the boardroom, but companies are clinging to the status quo. REUTERS/Andrea Comas 

Author: Beth A. Brooke is Global Vice Chair, Public Policy at Ernst & Young