T Minus 14: CEOs Pledge Plans For Gender Parity By 2030
I pledge allegiance to the plan for gender parity in corporations of the United States of America by 2030.
More than two dozen CEOS and business leaders announced last week a five-point plan of the Paradigm For Parity, with the goal of achieving gender parity across all levels of leadership groups in the next 14 years. Six of the CEOS, or 22 percent of the CEOS on board, are women. That is higher than the U.S. average. Take The Lead Co-founder and President Gloria Feldt is a member of this group.
“According to a survey conducted by sales analytics company DiscoverOrg, there were just 1,835 female C-Level execs out of the 9,975 tallied for the survey; and a staggering 7 percent of executives at Fortune 1000 companies are women,” according to Fortune.
According to Barb Darrow writing in Fortune, ‘“The biggest surprise to me was how little gender diversity there still is,’ reflects Henry Schuck, co-founder and chief executive of DiscoverOrg. ‘You might expect less than 50 percent of C-level executives to be women, but I was surprised at how much less it was.’”
While all agree the push for gender parity is necessary, the precise reporting mechanisms for progress are not in place.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “The group hasn’t decided yet how it might hold business bosses accountable for fulfilling its detailed game plan. Committed CEOs are expected to privately swap details about their progress, and are urged to consider public disclosure.”
Joann S. Lublin writes in the WSJ: “Women now hold 19 percent of C-suite roles, a slight increase from 17 percent in 2015, according to research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. Getting to 50 percent ‘will be challenging but is attainable,’ said Nicholas Akins, head of American Electric Power Co. and a coalition member.”
Lublin continues, “In March 2015, Accenture set a goal that women would represent at least 40 percent of new hires world-wide by 2017. By next spring, Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture, expects 50 CEOs will support the Paradigm for Parity campaign.”
Whether as CEOS, C-suite members as chief operating officers, or chief information officers, clearly the goal of Paradigm for Parity is to change the percentages of women at the top across the board, and in a little more than a decade. Take The Lead has the goal to reach gender parity across all sectors in leadership by 2025. The Take The Lead initiative, #IPledgeParity affirms the goal of leadership fairness and representation as quickly as possible.
The Paradigm for Parity goals include: Eliminating or minimizing unconscious bias in the workplace; significantly increasing the number of women in senior operating roles, with the near-term goal of at least 30 percent representation in all lender parity across all levels of leadership groups; measuring targets and maintaining accountability by providing regular progress reports; basing career progress on business results and performance, rather than physical presence in the office; and providing sponsors, not just mentors, to women well positioned for long term success.
This is a goal the current Barack Obama White House administration supports. Last week, “the Obama administration announced that 44 more companies, many of them well-known brand names such as AT&T, Estee Lauder and InterContinental Hotels, signed on to its equal pay pledge, affirming their commitment to paying men and women fairly and bringing the number of companies on that list to over 100,” writes Emily Peck in The Huffington Post.
“Powerful evidence links gender-balanced leadership with financial and stock market outperformance, and we are proud to partner with 27 major corporations to take definitive action to create the gender balance that will generate those tangible benefits,” said Ellen Kullman, Co-Chair of the Paradigm for Parity℠ coalition and former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DuPont from 2009 to 2015.
Kullman serves on the boards of directors of Amgen Inc., United Technologies, Dell Technologies and Carbon3D, Inc., and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Northwestern University and the Committee of 200.
CEOs of the 27 U.S. companies committed to achieve gender parity in corporate leadership positions by 2030 and follow the Paradigm for Parity℠ Action Plan include: Accenture, Adecco, American Electric Power, APCO Worldwide, AstraZeneca, Bank of America, Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, DSC Logistics, Edison International, Egon Zehnder, Farient Advisors, Frontier Communications, HealthHelp, Huffington Post, Linkage, LinkedIn, McKinsey & Company, MetricStream, NeoGenomics Laboratories, Inc., Newmont Mining, Nordstrom, SAP, Spencer Stuart, TDIndustries, VF Corporation and Voya Financial.
“Powerful evidence links gender-balanced leadership with financial and stock market outperformance, and we are proud to partner with 27 major corporations to take definitive action to create the gender balance that will generate those tangible benefits,” Kullman said.
The plan was 18 months in the making, according to Jewelle Bickford, Co-Chair of the Paradigm for Parity℠ coalition and partner and Wealth Advisor at Evercore Wealth Management.
“While many organizations support gender equality and call for enhanced diversity in the workplace, the Paradigm for Parity℠ coalition is unique in that it outlines a specific set of concurrent actions a company can take to achieve gender parity,” said Bickford, who was the only female Global partner in the United States at Rothschild and a member of the NM Rothschild Banking Committee.
Bickford is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the founder of the Council’s task force studying the role of women in economic and political development in the Middle East and Southeast Asia. She has been a trustee of more than 30 nonprofit organizations and sits on the boards of EL Education, the Business Committee of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Committee of 200.
As two examples, men can be more effective mentors for women if they practice listening skills with the goal of showing empathy versus trying to quickly problem solve or “fix” things for her. In the process of listening, male mentors may find that they develop and appreciate enhanced interpersonal skills, access to larger networks, and insider knowledge of their organization that makes them more effective leaders.
Many male mentors we interviewed stated that they often learned more from their female mentee than she did from him! Second, men must take it in stride if a female mentee cries (get over it already, dudes). Men should appreciate the research showing that greater prolactin levels, human evolution, and socialized permission are at play here, not weakness or distress.
Because 78 percent of the CEOs on board at the launch of Paradigm for Parity are men, it makes sense that men in management learn how to best mentor women in leadership, so more women can take up a post in the C-suite. One of the biggest problems in a male-female mentorship pairing can be that men do not understand women’s responses, experts say.
“These sex differences in emotionality can translate to misunderstanding, miscommunication, and relational fails if guys aren’t attuned,” according to David G. Smith and W. Brad Johnson, both professors in the Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law at the United States Naval Academy.
They wrote in Harvard Business Review, “In understanding how men and women relate to each other in a mentoring relationship, men should appreciate women’s neurological tendencies to absorb and retain more sensorial and emotive information, be verbally expressive in connecting memories and current events, and be more analytical of relational feelings.”
They continue, “Men can be more effective mentors for women if they practice listening skills with the goal of showing empathy versus trying to quickly problem solve or fix things for her. In the process of listening, male mentors may find that they develop and appreciate enhanced interpersonal skills, access to larger networks, and insider knowledge of their organization that makes them more effective leaders.”
About the Author
Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldon www.micheleweldon.com