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12 posts from January 2011

January 31, 2011

Three enlightening days in Davos

Deloitte Global CEO Jim Quigley in Davos (Credit: Thomas Oswald)My time at the 2011 Annual Meeting passed quickly as it does every year. My three days in Davos were fascinating, engaging, and enlightening. I was pleased to begin my activities with a panel discussion on “Entering the human age – unleashing and leveraging human potential in the new reality." As the leader of an organization with 170,000 member firm professionals, I am passionately interested in how to unleash the potential of large groups so that they work together effectively toward a shared purpose.

I also had the privilege of moderating a panel discussion on “The state of manufacturing: a global update.” This was an opportunity to personally and professionally return to my roots as a leader in Deloitte US’s manufacturing practice. There was broad consensus that manufacturing is going to be led by talent-driven innovation. To support this need, manufacturing organizations must focus on education and skills-building and construct public/private partnerships to deliver the skilled talent they require.

The group also agreed that most manufacturing leaders are working to understand what a successful global manufacturing blueprint looks like in today’s new reality. While the answer to the blueprint question varied, the group agreed that industrial policies like deregulation and public sector involvement will play an important role in stimulating investment and collaboration for manufacturers and the countries where they operate.

I also attended Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev’s opening address. He displayed great composure in the wake of the tragedy at Moscow’s Domodedovo airport and seemed grateful for the moment of silence observed prior to his speech. While he was understandably solemn, he still delivered his message effectively, addressing Russia’s current political, social, and economic challenges and the country’s effort to improve its investment climate. It was a memorable—and at times, very moving—session.

Thursday began another full day of meetings, dialogues, and receptions. I had the privilege of joining other Big Four leaders for a discussion about accounting for new realities. Dennis Nally, Rolf Nonnenmacher, James Turley, and I discussed the possibility of redesigning corporate reporting to integrate information on the environmental, social, and ethical risks associated with global business. We were aligned in our view that while the current model does not always account for certain risks, any new framework must be developed collaboratively between the private sector, accounting professionals, and financial policy standard-setters.

I also took part in a meeting of the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council, which included a discussion with leading economists about the global economic outlook. Overall, the view was positive and the group agreed that sustained recovery is underway. They expect 2010’s improved economic performance to be stronger in 2011. There also was agreement that the key indicators of recovery will be employment growth plus GDP and that the problem of massive structural unemployment will require major skills-building.

I am honored to have taken part in another Annual Meeting. Each year, I leave Davos grateful for the opportunity I had to broaden my global perspective, engage in memorable dialogs, and connect with old and new colleagues.

Jim Quigley is the Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte). Prior to his current role, he was the CEO of Deloitte United States. Throughout his 36 years with the organization, Jim has held multiple leadership roles and is actively engaged in a number of international business organizations and committees, each working to help shape the policies for a successful and sustainable global economy.

Read Jim's guest blog on the World Economic Forum Blog for more reflections on this year's event.

January 27, 2011

The ‘devil is in the detail’ of global financial regulatory reform

tape measurerAt last year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos there was a major focus on framing the regulatory issues facing the financial services industry, including capital reform, liquidity, leverage and systemically important institutions. Those same themes have returned to Davos this year, but with a difference: this year the discussion is all about the detail.

Take, for example, the issue of systemically important financial institutions - or SIFIs as they have been dubbed. The regulators, politicians and financial services executives generally agree that there are certain institutions whose failure could have a catastrophic effect on the financial system and, as a result, should be subject to more stringent rules and regulations.

So far, so good. However, the difficulty arrives when these groups try to agree on what these more stringent rules and regulations should include, or even define which institutions should be categorized as SIFIs. Some have argued that the qualification for SIFI should be based on size, while others maintain that leverage, risk appetite and interconnectivity should all be used in measuring whether an institution is systemically important or not.

Each of these major industry issues are at a different stage in the process of having their detail defined. Some are still at the very early stages of discussion, while others are moving closer to what will likely be their final agreed form. However, one thing is consistent: the financial services industry is going to negotiate right until the very end of the process. They are lobbying hard and making sure that their point of view is heard at this year’s meeting in Davos. Much of this effort is driven by the industry’s concern that the global regulatory response might go too far, driven by the politicians’ desire to appease an angry public.

With such powerful forces still pushing and pulling the debate around the detail it is likely that the industry will experience a continued period of regulatory uncertainty. Perhaps we will witness over-regulation to begin with, followed by sensible retrenchment, before the new global financial regulatory landscape finally settles into something stable and predictable.

So what can financial institutions do while these all important details are still being debated and discussed? Well, I believe institutions should continue focusing on activities that preserve their operational and business ‘flexibility’. Take regulatory compliance as an example. Institutions may need to invest to bring more senior talent into their compliance function over the short-term, and use that experience to empower more flexible decision making and judgment to specific situations as the detail behind the new regulations unfold.

Navigating the journey into the new financial services landscape continues to require delicate decision making on the part of financial services CEOs. If they wait until all the details are worked out they risk trailing those competitors who have marched boldly ahead. However, if they move too quickly, their efforts could be undermined by the still shifting detail behind many of these key issues.

I believe it’s one of the reasons why this year’s Davos discussion will be very closely watched around the financial world.

Jack Ribeiro is Chairman of Deloitte’s Global Financial Services Industry (GFSI) practice. He has over 32 years of experience working with financial services clients and has played a prominent role in the management of some of Deloitte’s key practices around the world.

Live at Davos | Deloitte’s response to “Preparing for the Global Talent Crisis”

Dttl_davosbrand_200x200_012611As the Global Managing Director of Brand at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, I am often asked how employer branding—the way an organization uses its brand to attract, engage, and retain its people—can protect the sustained future of an organization and the global business community.

The answer, as you might suspect, is not simple—engaging employees with their employer’s brand requires the utmost innovation. In fact, central to the idea of investing in an employer brand as a way to achieve competitive eminence is viewing talent and brand as an integrated solution to resolve the unparalleled global crisis of talent scarcity.

With that in mind, I am proud to be in the company of the distinguished government, business, and community leaders participating in this year’s World Economic Forum session on “Preparing for the Global Talent Crisis: Action Time”. The Forum is a wonderful opportunity to engage in education-focused discussions with other thought leaders.

Below are several key insights and responses on the impact of global talent risk from the Forum’s report Global Talent Risk – Seven Responses:

Continue reading "Live at Davos | Deloitte’s response to “Preparing for the Global Talent Crisis” " »

January 26, 2011

The day before Davos

Deloitte Global CEO Jim Quigley enjoying his first day in Davos outside the media interview area.After weeks of preparation, I was delighted to finally arrive in Davos on Tuesday for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011. The Swiss mountain town was already busy with activity—delegates arriving from around the world, finishing touches being put on the new Congress Hall, and the international media ready to begin interviews.

While I find this all fascinating and exciting, one of my favorite parts of my yearly visit is the drive through the Swiss Alps to the town of Davos. I find the natural beauty in Switzerland stunning and a welcome reminder of the mountains and valleys of my childhood home in the western United States. Every year, I enjoy these few hours to take in the area’s breathtaking scenery before the start of a busy week at the Forum.

My first day was largely spent doing interviews with CNN, the Associated Press, and the Wall Street Journal. In line with this year’s meeting theme, many of the journalists were interested in discussing the new reality of a post-recession world. Richard Quest from CNN International asked me if the recovery that is underway will be sustainable. As I told Richard, I am cautiously optimistic that it is. Deloitte member firms are seeing clients look for help and assistance in managing today’s dynamic environment. Our network’s hiring numbers also are back to pre-crisis levels and we continue to invest in our people and our capabilities.

I enjoyed all of my day one activities in Davos. The interviews were engaging and I enjoyed the opportunity to catch up with the Deloitte team that supports our Forum activities every year. But most importantly, I am proud to once again represent Deloitte during the Annual Meeting. Some of the brightest minds in the world attend the gathering and it is a privilege to serve as Deloitte’s ambassador and to showcase our brand for the 2,500 delegates. I look forward to sharing more from Switzerland in the coming days.

Jim Quigley is the Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (Deloitte). Prior to his current role, he was the CEO of Deloitte United States. Throughout his 36 years with the organization, Jim has held multiple leadership roles and is actively engaged in a number of international business organizations and committees, each working to help shape the policies for a successful and sustainable global economy.

For more on Jim’s perspectives on the 2011 World Economic Forum view his video message or follow him @deloitteceo.

View Jim’s interview with Richard Quest of CNN International

January 25, 2011

Deloitte’s latest look at the global economy

Plane_over_cityAs editor of Deloitte Research’s quarterly Global Economic Outlook I often struggle to find new things to say about the economy other than updating the outlook. In this quarter, my colleagues and I have chosen to look a bit beyond the horizon. While many economists today focus on the short term transition out of crisis and into sustainable recovery, one cannot help but feel that a bigger and longer term transition is under way.

Of course, things have been changing for some time. For the past 30 years, the big emerging markets have gradually increased their share of the global pie following two centuries of relative decline. But now, the process of catching up appears to be accelerating, and with dramatic consequences. This is most noticeable in the aftermath of the global recession.  As developed markets struggle to recover, big emerging countries are racing ahead—not only boosting their own living standards, but stimulating growth in the rest of the world. With much more rapid growth than the developed world, these countries have become significant players in the global economy. For the first time, their policies are of critical importance to everyone else.  Moreover, as they grow, their middle classes are rising in importance and attracting the lion’s share of attention from many of the world’s biggest companies. For the developed economies, this means managing a process of relative decline.

Consequently, this quarter’s Outlook spends a good deal of time focused on the changing world of emerging nations. Interestingly, the challenges they face are quite different from those faced by the developed economies. In the U.S., Europe, and Japan, the biggest challenges are maintaining decent growth and reducing long-term fiscal deficits.  In the emerging economies, the challenge is to keep the economies from overheating and generating serious inflation. Hence governments are struggling with balancing the threat of inflation with the need to maintain competitiveness in the global economy. 

The emergence of the emerging nations is but one of the many new realities that global companies face.  Indeed, “new realities” is the theme of this year’s World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. In the latest issue of Deloitte Resarch’s quarterly Global Economic Outlook, Elisabeth Denison examines some of the new realities of the global economy and their implications for global business. She looks at the changing dynamics of East versus West, private sector versus public sector, energy demand versus sustainability, and youth versus aging among other topics.  The rest of the report focuses on specific geographies including the U.S., Europe, Japan, the BRIC nations, and a new outlook on sub-Saharan Africa.   

Today, readers of newspapers and viewers of television news are probably perplexed by the arguments about exchange rates, inflation, deficits, and the like. If you want a bit more clarity on these issues, as well as a point of view from people who do nothing but follow these issues, I suggest reading our latest Global Economic Outlook report.

Dr. Ira Kalish is Director of Global Economics at Deloitte Research, Deloitte Services LP. He is an expert on global economic issues as well as the effects of economic, demographic and social trends on the global business environment. He has authored more than 150 articles and reports on economic and consumer trends around the world.

January 21, 2011

The Gender Dividend – Transforming business through the leadership of women

Woman_pointing_at_symbolsAs we begin the second decade of the 21st Century, businesses need to make the most of their resources, especially those with a proven track record in boosting performance. That makes now the time for many more women to take on greater leadership roles, especially in the c-suite and boardroom.

As an accountant for the past 38 years, I have long believed that numbers tell a story. For many years, I have seen a steady stream of research whose numbers confirm the impressive contributions made by the relatively few women at the highest levels of leadership in business today. So it only makes sense that more women serving in these roles will lead to greater business performance and economic growth.

Catalyst, a nonprofit research and advisory organization focused primarily on the advancement of women, invited me to serve on its board a few years ago. I have long been acquainted with Catalyst’s research. Its research findings consistently confirm that those organizations with the most women as senior leaders enjoy rates of return that are greater—often by double-digits—than those with far fewer or no women in their leadership ranks.

That’s what the Gender Dividend is all about. Much like the dividends that public corporations pay to shareholders, the Gender Dividend is a steady benefit that is earned by making wise, balanced investments in developing women as workers and potential leaders, as well as understanding women as consumers and their impact on the economy and the bottom line. Done right, the Gender Dividend should be reflected in increased sales, expanded markets, and recruitment and retention of a key market segment—women.

It is not wishful thinking. As research has consistently proven, the Gender Dividend is a demonstrable fact. But when culture and custom conspire to keep businesses from achieving the greatest returns, investors should take note and vote with their feet. I believe that enlightened investors in search of the greatest returns will vote for those businesses that not only value diversity, but are smart enough to capitalize on it.

Beyond returns in the marketplace for talent and customers, the Gender Dividend can show a payback in the boardroom. As the chairman of Deloitte’s board, I speak often about the ABCs of corporate governance—attitude, behavior, and candor. When present and positive, they help create a boardroom environment that can set ideas into motion and enable people and organizations to move forward productively. Yet it is another element that follows the ABCs—the letter “D” for diverse people and diversity of thought—that enables businesses to enjoy strong governance and develop the best strategic decisions. The diversity of thought provided by women can bring different attitudes and behaviors to the boardroom, as well as fresh candor that can be inspired by a variety of perspectives. Diversity in the boardroom is powerful, and it works.

At the height of the recent recession, Catalyst produced a short video to address the business challenges of a desperate economy. Its voiceover concluded by telling executives that there is an “overlooked yet effective solution to help you make your numbers—and she may be seated right next to you.” I hope that documented research and an open mind will help people understand that such thinking makes perfectly good sense.

Economic growth is one of the quickest ways to unleash transformational change – and with more growth comes more possibilities. In two weeks, the World Economic Forum will convene once again with its mission to improve the state of the world. In the spirit of Davos, let me challenge you, your business, and your nation to intentionally invest in women as business leaders. The women that your investments will enable—as well as the greater returns from the Gender Dividend that it will create—can transform your business, spur your nation’s economy, and improve the state of our world.

Sharon Allen is Chairman of the Board for Deloitte LLP where she leads the board in providing oversight and guidance to the management of the U.S. Firm and its subsidiaries. Frequently honored for her contributions to business and community leadership, Sharon was named to Forbes’ list of “The 100 Most Powerful Women in the World” for four consecutive years.

As used in this post, “Deloitte” means Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Please see About Deloitte for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries.

January 20, 2011

The U.S. deficit - A moment of truth

PiggybankExcessive deficits are an issue that has spread across the globe, and that will be a common topic at the World Economic Forum next week as well. Several G20 countries have had their debt already exceed 100% of their GDP—and we are already reading of the public and political issues that have occurred as a result. And in the United States, the problem is acute.

Some months ago, I had the good fortune of being appointed as one of the 18 members of the Bipartisan Policy Center Debt Reduction Task Force—referred to in the media as the Domenici/Rivlin Commission. This was one of two major deficit-related studies which were reported out late in 2010, the other being Simpson/Bowles.

Even with the 37 years I have spent in public policy and public administration while at Deloitte LLP, it was an extraordinarily eye-opening and, in some cases, troubling experience. Why? Because the U.S. deficit and cumulative debt have been rising at a level that is simply unsustainable. Based on our analysis, our U.S. debt will approach 100% of U.S. GDP by the end of this decade. And interest alone on that debt will likely exceed $1 trillion a year! Perhaps more disconcerting, we found that U.S. revenue will only be adequate to cover current Medicare obligations, current Social Security obligations, and interest in 2025.

Clearly action is required and there is not much time to waste. Why should this matter to corporate America? If Federal borrowing has to continue to rise, we will ultimately see the cost of borrowing increase as well, and with rising interest rates likely rising inflation. Addressing this issue over time will be important to both confidence in the dollar and the surety with which U.S. corporate leaders can make longer-term capital commitments.

The Commission considered several alternatives and ultimately proposed some specific recommendations. Of note, our task group reached unanimity on the recommendations. Also of note, were our plan fully implemented, savings to the Federal government would approach $29 trillion over the next 20 years. You may be interested in reviewing the final report, which is attached. And, again, this is obviously also a big global issue. For more insights on the global implications of the rising debt, please see the Deloitte Research report Red ink rising.

You certainly may ask what would lead me to believe that Congress would be inclined to do anything, even with a well-thought out plan in hand. That’s a very good question. One could certainly look at the 2010 election results and key platform positions of the winners to gain some confidence. It certainly is clear that most of the new members of Congress were elected in part based on their commitment to get Federal spending under control.

Regardless of one’s confidence—or lack thereof—we will soon have some hard evidence. The first real test is likely going to be when the current legislated Federal debt ceiling is reached this spring. That ceiling can only be raised by Congressional action, otherwise certain areas of the Federal government will shut down. It will be very interesting to see what program cuts and policy changes are negotiated in exchange for a commitment to support raising the debt ceiling.

It will be a fascinating issue to follow this spring!

Bob Campbell, Deloitte LLP U.S. State Government Leader, has, throughout his 36-year career with the Deloitte U.S. firm, worked closely with government leaders to address and resolve critical policy, financing, and operational issues at all levels of government. He has worked extensively with leaders of major federal agencies and more than 40 states on projects touching nearly every area of government concern.

January 19, 2011

Exploring new forms of economic leverage

LeversOn the snowy streets of Davos this year, almost all conversations will touch upon, in one way or another, how our increasingly interconnected economy is irrevocably altering business models. And one characteristic of this change is in the manner in which companies create leverage for themselves.

We watch in disbelief as financial markets retreat and the investment banking industry morphs into something yet to be determined. We are witnessing the dark side of financial leverage. While “de-leveraging” has become the buzzword du jour, we may miss the real lessons of the current crisis and the real opportunities for leverage.

The lure and risks of financial leverage
Financial leverage is a powerful accelerant in growing markets. Companies can extend their reach far more rapidly by borrowing other people’s money. They can also generate much higher returns for the equity investors if companies have opportunities for profitable growth. This is especially true when companies operate in an environment with relatively low interest rates and significant growth in global liquidity, as we have had over the past decade or so.

At every level of our society—individual, firm, and government—financial leverage has proven very seductive. To give an idea of how seductive , the total amount of credit market debt in the U.S. in 1980 was about the same as our GDP; by 2007, it had increased to 350% of GDP.

But, as we are learning, financial leverage has a significant downside as well. And, while challenging enough at an individual company level, it becomes even more challenging in our highly connected global economy, as our current crisis illustrates. When many companies are highly leveraged, if one company runs into financial trouble, it can generate a domino effect as each company struggles to cover its debt obligations and puts pressure on the companies that have borrowed from it. This is the scramble to “de-leverage” that we are now witnessing. Cash is king and leverage, once worshipped as a god, now becomes the devil.

Continue reading "Exploring new forms of economic leverage" »

January 18, 2011

Why is perfect the enemy of better?

King_diamonds_cardIn a few weeks at the annual World Economic Forum meeting at Davos, the concept of disruption will crop up in a number of contexts. This is a notion that I’ve spent over 10 years working with.

In my forthcoming book, The Innovator’s Manifesto, and in presentations I made in New York on the topic early this year, I offered evidence that it is possible to improve our ability to predict which innovations will succeed and which will fail through the application of Disruption theory. Disruption does not enable perfect predictions—if it did, I’d keep the knowledge to myself and simply reap the rewards of its application! But it can make us better than we are now.

This might seem a shocking claim. “Predictability” and “innovation” are often portrayed as the oil and water of management practice. For many, it seems that the goal of accurately predicting what will work is at best quixotic and for some, almost offensive. Most people seem to believe that the defining elements of successful innovations are fundamentally idiosyncratic. Every circumstance is unique, how one deals with a given circumstance is ultimately bespoke, and success lies in the inscrutable and largely intuitive choices of each decision-maker. Since innovation means making a bet about the future, the data are never dispositive, and so well-informed, highly experienced executives can look at exactly the same opportunity and come to completely different conclusions.

This phlegmatic acceptance of diverse points of view is something that has become increasingly intolerable in other fields, such as medicine. Who would accept a course of treatment based on the untested prejudices of a single clinician over that implied by carefully compiled evidence of what works best? The good news is that we need not make that choice based on personal preferences. With the birth of the “evidence-based medicine” (EBM) paradigm over the last 20 years, generally accepted methods have emerged for determining what constitutes the best evidence in support of specific tests, diagnoses, and treatments, along with processes for translating those findings into clinical practice. The results have been nothing short of miraculous: dramatically improved results at dramatically lower costs.

A key element of EBM’s success that has driven these results, and has much to teach the practice of management, is the ability to act on the best available evidence even when that evidence is imperfect. In other words, even though the state of art will often not permit a definitive diagnosis and course of treatment, using the evidence that is available to make our decisions is better than not using it. By acting based on the best available evidence, ineffective treatments are weeded out and incremental improvements are possible. These quantum leaps forward cumulate rapidly to transform clinical outcomes.

This might seem obvious, but as I have had the chance to share my findings on Disruption’s predictive power with executives charged with deciding which innovations to back, their reactions are often puzzling to me. “Sure,” they observe, “Disruption increases predictive accuracy. But it’s not perfect. You can’t tell me for sure whether this project will succeed or fail. And until your theory can do that, I’m going to stick with what I know.” Since the likelihood of the sudden emergence of a fully formed theory of innovation with total predictive accuracy is unlikely, practitioners change their approaches, if they change them at all, in ways that are subject to all the usual biases (salience, confirmation, bandwagon effects, and so on), and so  improvement becomes impossible.

Why, I wonder, do some (not you, I’m sure, but perhaps people you might know) resist an approach that is demonstrably an improvement over current practice simply because it is imperfect? Why is “better” not good enough? After all, as the saying goes, “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” And if the evidence supporting an allegedly better alternative seems lacking in some way, ask yourself this:  what is the nature of the evidence supporting the view you currently hold, and if you had to “zero-base” your current decision-making heuristics, would you end up with the same set of principles that guides your current choices?

In his client projects, research, and books, Michael E. Raynor, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, explores the challenges of corporate strategy, innovation, and growth. He is the bestselling author of The Strategy Paradox , co-author of The Innovator’s Solution , and author of the forthcoming The Innovator’s Manifesto.

January 13, 2011

How women can help you beat the competition

Dttl_woman walkingAre you looking for your next growth area? What are your plans to beat your competition? Come to think of it, what business exactly are you in? If your answer to any of these questions isn’t talent, then you are running the risk of being left behind. Why? Because growth and competitive advantage will come from innovation and creativity in the 21st century.

As John Hagel III, co-founder of the Deloitte U.S. Center for the Edge, says, “companies must truly become talent-driven firms.” Yet most today are underutilizing, and often downright ignoring, half of their talent pool—their women. Or, put another way, investing in women—both as workers and as consumers—is one of the best levers for creating competitive advantage.

Let’s take women as workers—talented workers—first. Today’s economic realities—from the shrinking taxable workforce in many countries to the importance of critical-thinking, analytical, and decision-making skills in the digital economy—underlie why talent is becoming the most valuable resource for nations and businesses alike. And women not only make up roughly half of the workforce in most of the world, but they are graduating college at higher rates than men in many countries. The World Economic Forum’s 2010 Global Gender Gap Index shows that the educational attainment gap has almost disappeared. But that is not translating into women being retained, developed, and advanced in the workforce. In fact, those numbers are dismal. There has been no change in the percentage of women in senior management among the Fortune 500® for almost a decade1. In Europe, where women make up more than half of college graduates and 45 percent of the workforce, they are a measly 11 percent of corporate executives2. These numbers mean that the pipeline to the top either leaks women—or that they are getting stuck.

Either way, it’s not good for the bottom line. Churn has a steep price: a conservative estimate of the cost of turnover for knowledge workers ranges is 200 percent of salary. But that may not be the biggest cost to your business. Evidence is mounting that gender diversity (and diversity in general) at the top delivers better business results.  Today, Fortune 500® companies in the top quartile when it comes to women’s representation on their boards outperform those in the lowest quartile by at least 53 percent on return on equity3.  And in Europe, of 89 publicly traded companies with a market capitalization of over 150 million pounds, those with more women in senior management and board members had, on average, more than a 10 percent higher return on equity than those companies with the least percentage of women in leadership4.  Women bring their experiences, perspectives, and approaches to decision making, making it more robust.

But that’s not all—because the other half of creating competitive advantage is to understand the power of women as consumers. Women are not a niche group—they are the market. Already, women control roughly US$20 trillion of total consumer spending globally, and that number is predicted to rise to US$28 trillion by 20145.  And women either make or influence up to 80 percent of buying decisions, on everything from appliances to cars and medical services6.  This is not a consumer segment that businesses can afford to ignore—and those with more women in management are in a stronger position to understand and market to this population.

The bottom line—and that is what this is all about—is that there is a Gender Dividend to be reaped by any company or country  that invests in women. But that doesn’t mean businesses are doing all they can to take advantage of it. For many, promoting women is still a “soft” issue—not a business imperative. They have not figured out the cold, hard fact that not capitalizing on women as workers and consumers is holding their businesses back. Which means that if you build your business case for the Gender Dividend, it just might help you beat the competition.

(This column is adapted from our new study The Gender Dividend: Making the business case for investing in women.

Anne Weisberg is a Director of Talent, Deloitte Services LP, in the U.S. member firm and co-author of Mass Career Customization: Aligning the Workplace with Today’s Nontraditional Workforce.

1 - “2005 Catalyst Census of Women Board Directors of the Fortune 500 Shows 10-Year Trend of Slow Progress and Persistent Challenges,” Catalyst press release, 29 March 2006.

2 - “More women in senior positions: Key to economic stability and growth,” European Commission, January 2010

3 - Lois Joy, Ph.D., Director, Research, and Nancy M. Carter, Ph.D., Vice President, Research, at Catalyst Inc.; Harvey M. Wagner, Ph.D., and Sriram Narayanan, Ph.D., The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Corporate Boards (Catalyst, 2007)

4 - McKinsey, Women Matter

5 - Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, The Female Economy, Harvard Business Review, Sept. 2009, see also Sylvia Ann Hewlett, “Why Women are the Biggest Emerging Market,” Harvard Business Online (March 8, 2010)

6 - See e.g., The Economist, A Guide to Womenomics (April 12, 2006); Sandra Lawson and Douglas Gilman, The Power of the Purse: Global Equality and Middle Class Spending, (Goldman Sachs Global Research Institute, 2009)