GE: Innovation starts with gender equality

In February, GE announced an ambitious goal to employ 20,000 women in science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) roles — with 50-50 male-female representation in all of its entry-level technical programs — by 2020. The company set the goal to "inject urgency" into ending the gender imbalance in technical fields. That imbalance must be addressed to "fully transform GE into a digital industrial company," GE officials say.

The initiative applies to all the company's divisions including GE Transportation, which serves the rail industry.

GE isn't aiming for this goal just to be nice. The company is looking to close the gender gap in STEM roles because it makes good business sense. Making gender equality a goal and promoting more women to leadership roles in business not only fills job openings, it benefits the bottom line, says WTS International Chairwoman Diane Woodend Jones.

"Many studies show that companies do better [economically] when they have more diversity in their workforce at all levels," she told me in a recent interview about GE's gender equality efforts.

GE recently published a white paper to make the same point.

"Addressing the gender gap will create a more diverse workforce, and research shows that diverse teams are better at problem-solving and think more creatively," the paper's authors wrote. "Unless they become more diverse, companies will not be able to cope with today’s more disruptive innovation environment."

You can get more details about GE's efforts by reading my recent article on ProgressiveRailroading.com. Also, if you're involved in efforts to recruit more women into rail transportation jobs and leadership roles, please drop me an email at julie.sneider@tradepress.com. I'd love to hear about what you're doing.

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