Prove It: New Measures To Show Equality on Gender in The Workplace

Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, says it matters what kind of company you are and where you stand on gender equality. Diversity, equity and inclusion are just buzz words unless you put the plan into action. Some industries, companies and organizations are doing just that for women to reach equality for gender in the workplace.To measure progress to equity, Bloomberg created a Gender Equality Index to rank 26 companies in the financial industry, like Metlife, Visa and Bank of America on “53 data points…  ranging from number of women in the company and on its board, to length of parental leave, to provided child care and adoption services,” according to Fortune. “It will also provide investors with an easy way to compare the performance of these companies with that of the market as a whole.”[bctt tweet=“Diversity, equity and inclusion are just buzz words unless you put the plan into action #25not95”]According to Fortune’s Valentina Zarya: “Increasingly, we find that prospective employees and clients look at what kind of company we are when making decisions on working for us or awarding us their business,” writes Anne Finucane, vice chairman of Bank of America, in an email. “The Bloomberg GEI findings reflect what we have long known—the importance of women in our company, and the diversity of our employee base more broadly, is a reflection of the diversity of our clients, businesses and communities.”The insurance business is also seeing a lower number of women leaders as a new survey from Ernet & Young confirms that notion.According to Steve Randall in Insurance Business Canada, “The survey across 23 countries found that 72 percent of senior leaders in the insurance industry expected a ‘slight’ increase in female leadership and there was also widespread acknowledgement of the benefits of gender diversity in senior roles, however just 38 per cent of insurance firms surveyed formally measure progress towards gender parity.”That is not solid progress. On a grading scale, a 38 percent out of 100 would be failing and nowhere near fair on issues of gender in the workplace.Randall adds: “’Getting more women to the top requires identifying, developing and then promoting potential leaders. Yet, only 33 per cent of female and 58 per cent of male financial services leaders believe they are effective at promoting women into leadership positions,’ commented Tara Alex, Ernst & Young Global Insurance Diversity & Inclusion Leader.”Doing her part in the United Kingdom to expand the number of women at the top on boards and in executive suites, Sarah Marsh  serves on the board of directors of a $1 billion IT services company. But inclusion of women and fairness toward gender in the workplace goes beyond quotas, she says.Marsh writes in the Guardian: “In order to be taken seriously we, as women, cannot be seen as the victim or a group that needs special attention – we have to prove our worth and stand on our own two feet. Any purposeful and harmful discrimination needs to be dealt with professionally, within the boundaries of the law and governance.”Marsh continues, “I think there is a real reluctance for the private sector to embrace gender diversity in the same way as the public sector. We’ve seen improvements on boards in the public sector – for example, in education, the NHS and police – but the private business world is very slow on the uptake.”As a woman leader in the workplace, you can do your part recruiting, mentoring and advising other women in your organization, writes Cathy Paper, president of RockPaperStar. Paper writes in BizJournals, that it is crucial to have four types of people in your organization to make it healthy and collaborative. And that culture is conducive to empowering women.Those types include a listener, an accountability person, a mentor and an industry expert. Paper expands further saying that each type can be a bonus as well as a challenge.“In fact, the accountability person may even bother you by asking you for an update when you’re not ready. That’s a good sign. And in turn, you will most likely ask the accountability partner how they are doing on their goals. I’ve seen many accountability partners set bets with each other as to who can reach the goal first.”Mentorship is also important to Rebecca Ward, president and CEO of Moxie, who writes in Huffington Post: “A great mentor is an important part of everyone’s professional and personal journey and can come from all walks of life. It can be a neighbor, a friend, a colleague, a manager, and a board member, among others. The important thing is to be receptive to being mentored. At many points in my career, I was fortunate enough to encounter mentors who encouraged me to take advantage of new opportunities and trust in my ability to learn quickly. A good example was moving from a technical position at Xerox to sales. For me, the key takeaway from different mentors has been to expand on what I do well, and that’s the advice I would pass on: ‘Think about what you are good at and do more with it.’”Ward also notes that under-representation is the norm in engineering, as women are 20 percent of engineering students and 10 percent of engineering professionals.She adds, “Like others, I admire leaders who break ground and achieve a “first,” in their profession. It is through their hard work and willingness to take risk that they open up opportunities for younger generations of women.”Forcing the issue of gender parity and measuring the numbers of women in certain fields in Hollywood is  the American Civil Liberties Union, as the ACLU is reportedly investigating employment discrimination practices against women, according to Buzzfeed. “Through studies and interviews, the ACLU concluded that women are highly underrepresented as directors in film and television. In 2014, women directed just 7% of the 250 top-grossing films. And just 1.9% of directors for the 100 top-grossing films of 2013 and 2014 were women, the civil rights group found,” writes Mary Ann Georgantopoulos.While women in Hollywood are the minority, women are the majority of the professionals working in accounting, at 54 percent, writes Lisa Tierney, marketing strategist, author, certified life coach and president of TIERNEY Coaching & Consulting, Inc, in Accounting Today.With this, firms have to be aware that there are “different nuances of how women communicate and conduct business.” She writes, “The accounting firms that have provided support and resources to launch such an initiative (for women) claim a multitude of benefits on behalf of their female professionals and their female-owned clientele. But not many firms offer appropriate resources to their female professionals.”There is  definitely a split between firms on which ones offer programs to develop women leaders and which firms do not.According to Tierney,”Great ideas and programs to support and empower women can benefit (and apply to) everyone at the firm. Heidi LaMarca is the CEO and president of Windham Brannon, a Top 25 CPA firm in Atlanta. Women represent 42 percent of its shareholder group (five out of 12) and 50 percent of the entire leadership team. Heidi explains, ‘While there is no ‘official’ women’s initiative at the firm, we created our own leadership development program.’ The firm’s Leadership Academy is for both women and men. Candidates are identified by the partner group. ‘The program educates partner candidates on all aspects of running a CPA firm, including key performance metrics, business development, personal development and personal branding,’ says Heidi.”Tierney quotes industry leader Elaine Patel: “Five out of our six managers and directors are women. The business climate worldwide is changing and I believe that emerging leaders will be more mixed in gender and cultural background.”