Training Plan: Breaking the Glass Ceiling at Intuit
Intuit revolutionized the accounting industry with innovative applications that assist with financial analysis and tax preparation. Since 1983 Intuit has been a proud leader providing our most famous products: Quicken and TurboTax to a wide variety of customers from individuals to small businesses and corporations. We have prided ourselves on providing an excellent workplace that sparks creativity and builds long-term relationships. Our atmosphere is one of continual learning and growth.
However, this focus on growth always means that there is room for improvement. The following examines a new training plan to help take advantage of one area that could be improved. Intuit attracts young movers and shakers. However, women have recently complained that their needs are being ignored. The following will examine a plan to include women in the Intuit mix in a way that allows them truly equal opportunities to their male counterparts.
Training and Business Strategy
The key business strategy of Intuit played an essential role in the development of a largely male dominated company. It was not intentional, but rather as a result of operating in a largely male dominated sector of the economy. This resulted in the unintentional development of a glass ceiling within the company and an atmosphere that favors young men over women.
In 2008, Intuit revealed a new "Connected Services" strategy that recognizes the growing importance of small businesses. The cornerstone of the strategy is the development of new online services that use QuickBooks as its backbone (Intuit Inc., 2008). The launch of a new business strategy requires changes in the training strategy to make it work. All employees must be aware of and understand how this new business strategy will affect their job at Intuit. This will be an essential part of the successful launch of this new approach to QuickBooks core products and services.
Equal Opportunity and Competitive Advantage
Improving equal opportunity not only increases its attractiveness to the female workforce and other minority groups in this business sector: it will help to improve the company's overall competitive advantage as well. Promoting an inclusive environment for women in the workplace is called gender diversity. In the United States, and many other countries around the world, promoting gender diversity is a legal requirement. However, aside from being a legal requirement, one must ask how important it is for the company.
The concept of gender diversity first began to gain interest in the 1990s when human resources research began to focus on organizational performance (Ali, Metz & Kulik, 2007). The question is whether women contribute significantly to the competitive advantage of the organization or whether a team comprised solely of men can do the job just as well. Gender diversity in the workforce promotes the development of psychological categorization. When the workforce consists unequally of one gender, the lesser gender will feel isolated. This isolation can produce less communication and interaction between workforce members. It produces a feeling of being either in-group or out-group. Either way, unequal gender diversity reduces team performance and can create negative behaviors and reduced problem solving abilities (Ali, Metz & Kulik, 2007). Both of these elements significantly reduce productivity and decreases competitive advantage for the organization.
In an unequal workforce, those that feel isolated will often be less functional team members. For instance, in a workforce that has nine males and one female; the female will not be a functional part of the team. Gender equality was found to create better overall production for the organization as well as more functional teams (Ali, Metz & Kulik, 2007). The innovation of female team members is more likely to be recognized in a gender equal organization. When gender diversity is unequal the contributions of women will often be ignored by male members of the team because the female experiences isolation. This leads to decreased innovation and hence, decreased competitive advantage overall (Ali, Metz & Kulik, 2007).
Hiring and Keeping Women: A Targeted Approach
Intuit operates in a relatively male dominated sector of the market. Difficulties attracting women to the workforce and keeping them is a problem that not only affects Intuit, but our competitors as well. The problem of attracting and keeping women results from a larger problem within the industry, but that does not lessen the effects of workforce inequality at Intuit. The ability to resolve this industry-wide problem will give Intuit a decided competitive advantage over organizations that remain male dominated.
The quest for workforce diversity will require a targeted approach towards women, rather than the general human resources approach taken in the past. Currently, Intuit offers many amenities to its employees. These include a gym and a game room. Women will be less attracted to these amenities than the male workforce, which only serves to increase gender inequality at Intuit. A woman is less likely to go to a gym or game room where conversation and socialization is dominated by men. They will not feel a part of the activities and social life of the organization, which will only intensify the feeling of isolation they are already experiencing.
A targeted approach for the women means including amenities that speak to their likes and interests. Women need a place where they can gather with other women and feel a part of the social network of the organization. Providing amenities targeted towards women will go a long way in attracting women to Intuit.
Aside from attracting women to Intuit, keeping them poses another problem. Studies indicate that women are disappearing from the workforce, particularly in male-dominated occupations such as technology (Griffiths & Moore, 2010). This is a global trend and there are many reasons for this phenomenon that cannot be controlled by individual companies. It was found that women are more likely to leave the workforce at a time of transition in their life (Griffiths & Moore, 2010). Certain life events such as starting a family, getting married, and having children cannot be controlled by the organization. The inability to balance work and family represents a key reason for this growing trend (Griffiths & Moore, 2010).
Obstacles in the Quest for Diversity
Global trends favor fewer and fewer women in the workforce, particularly in the technology sector. Obstacles to retaining women in the workforce were briefly addressed in the previous section. This section will identify the three most important obstacles that Intuit faces in attracting and keeping women as an important part of the organizational team.
The first obstacle, and perhaps the most important is conflict between work and family. This is particularly case with those that are just beginning a new family with babies and small children. Regardless of the amenities offered that target women, when a family is begun, priorities for the female employee will change. It is more than likely that work will take a backseat to family responsibilities, particularly among fulltime workers (Noonan, Estes, & Glass, 2007)... Providing flexible work hours and provisions for child care, either on or off site, are ways to combat this obstacle. However, the effectiveness of the strategies is limited by global trends that favor women moving away from the workforce.
The second obstacle that Intuit will face in attracting and retaining women is that a majority of managerial positions are held by men. This may enhance the perception that women cannot obtain management positions and move up at Intuit. The primary way to battle this perception is to intentionally hire women for management positions as they open up. Intuit needs to have women in management positions so that other women will see this as a possibility for themselves. However, it is difficult to achieve this without violating EEOC and creating a discriminatory environment against men. This issue will be one of the most difficult to resolve, given the current status of women in management at Intuit.
The third major obstacle that Intuit will face in attracting and retaining women is the industry-wide perception that it is a male- dominated profession. Women may be intimidated to enter into a workforce that is dominated by males. The provision of amenities specifically targeted towards women will help to break this image. The provision of salons, child care, and activities that will be attractive to women will play an essential role in breaking this stereotype.
Improving Visibility of Women
Intuit faces a challenge that affects every organization in the technology sector. The problem is a global and not confined to the United States. Attracting women to the workforce and keeping them is one of the greatest challenges Intuit faces in its quest to improve its competitive advantage. In order to attract and retain women, the visibility of women in the workplace must be improved. The following strategies will help to make progress in this area.
One strategy for increasing the visibility of women will be to produce targeted mass Media advertising that features both men and women working together on software development. Imagery contained in the advertising will have to convey…