While more than 75 percent of CEOs say gender equality is part of their top 10 business priorities, women remain underrepresented across every level of the corporate pipeline—comprising just 37 percent of management positions and 19 percent of C-Suite positions, according to a recent study from McKinsey and LeanIn.org.
This gender disparity doesn't stem from the inability of women to perform at top levels. Catalyst found that Fortune 500 companies with women on their boards had significantly higher returns on equity (53 percent), better sales (42 percent), and a two-thirds greater ROI than companies with all-male boards. Instead, a recent Bersin by Deloitte brief suggests that the problem comes down to culture: It turns out that most organizations simply do not provide an environment that supports diverse leaders or encourages everyone to strive for senior positions.
The lack of cultural support for minorities leads to decreased confidence, ultimately making it much more difficult for women to pursue leadership roles. Rather than addressing the existing problem as solely a gender balance issue, companies should work to create a culture of inclusion that fosters diversity and encourages everyone to strive towards leadership opportunities. Bersin by Deloitte research showed that organizations with strong cultures of leadership growth also happened to have the highest degree of gender diversity.
Here are four key practices your organization can adopt to help foster a culture that supports female employees throughout their career journeys, according to Deloitte's new research, "Addressing the Female Leader Paradox: Four Practices for Building a Supportive Culture."
1) Teach Employees About Diversity, Conflict and Bias
A strong organizational culture begins with education. Provide training and resources that teach employees how to handle topics such as diversity, conflict and bias. Creating an internal dialogue around these often controversial topics can help make employees aware of unconscious bias and discrimination in the workplace. By providing them with the skills to change behavior you encourage a positive shift in organizational attitude.
Eileen Scully, founder of The Rising Tides, a consulting firm focused on supporting women in the workplace, sees the impact learning and development opportunities can provide first-hand in her work. She cautions leaders to avoid making presumptions about the influence of someone's personal life on their professional ambitions.
"Work intensely with your hiring and promoting managers to negate the internal dialogues that may prohibit women from advancing such as, 'she just got married,' or 'she's going to have a baby soon,' so let's invest in someone else," Scully says.
2) Listen to Career Concerns and Desires
After education, listening is the next step in building a strong organizational culture. Create a two-way dialogue where female employees feel comfortable discussing their career concerns and desires, then use this information when designing and shaping pathways to leadership.
Katerina Trajchevska, CEO of Adeva, a tech startup that helps businesses hire and retain top talent, says women are treated equally when everyone's voice feels heard. "Rather than creating a culture centered on supporting female leadership, create a culture that supports leadership in general and encourages people to speak up and take initiative. That is an environment where women are actually treated equally, where they get to face their challenges and thrive," she explains.
3) Proactively Create an Inclusive Culture
Scully recommends encouraging company veterans with 10 or more years of experience in the workplace to identify and sponsor younger rising stars. If your staff skews young, you can also look to outside mentorship resources, such as Everwise, which connects mentors and mentees across organizations.
4) Set and Measure Diversity and Inclusion Goals
Lastly, create measurable diversity and inclusion goals. While most companies track the representation of women, only 44 percent set pipeline targets for gender diversity and even fewer set targets for external hiring and promotions, the McKinsey and LeanIn.org study found. Examples of tracking metrics your organization can use include: gender representation of external candidates for hire, salary differences in comparable positions by gender and assignment of high-visibility projects by gender.
By creating clear goals, you can easily track progress and tangibly see how your efforts are paying off. It's also important to be transparent about the results you see and to hold leaders accountable for creating plans to reach their goals. Remember, there's no one-size-fits all when it comes to diversity goal setting; it will take trial and error to find what works best.
Photo: Creative Common
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Ten Dad-Friendly Workplaces
When we talk about the quest to "have it all," it's almost always in reference to working women trying to balance a stressful 9-to-5 with the equally difficult demands of family. To be sure, women face distinct challenges in the workplace and high expectations at home. But this Father's Day, let's not forget that dads are increasingly juggling work and home life, too. Single fatherhood is becoming more common in the US—a 2013 Pew report found that a record 8 percent of families with children were headed by a single dad—and 60 percent of households with children are dual-income as of 2014, putting added pressure on both working parents. While policies in the US do not mandate paid family leave of any kind—unlike parent-topia Sweden, which offers 16 months of paid parental leave and three months specifically for paternity leave—many companies are now thinking about how they can help their workers be "Employee of the Year," without sacrificing their "Dad of the Year" trophy. Here are ten excellent companies for working dads, based on a new report from parenting resource website Fatherly. 1. Google Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 53,600 Paid Paternity Leave: 7 weeks (12 weeks for primary caregiver) Industry: Tech Dad-friendly Policy Highlight: When you work with Google, your family is part of the family—really. If an employee passes away, the company provides his/her spouse with 50 percent of their salary for 10 years and immediately vested stock options, and children receive $1,000 a month until they turn 19 (or 23 if they're a student). 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Number Of Employees: 10,082 Paid Paternity Leave: 17 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: Procreating pays off. Facebook gives new parents a $4,000 "new child benefit," along with subsidized day care. Not to mention the $20,000 worth of supplemental insurance coverage for fertility and family planning treatments. 3. Bank of America Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Charlotte, NC Number Of Employees: 220,000 Paid Parental Leave: 12 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Bank of America's twelve weeks of paid paternity leave is on par with countries likeIceland. Not too shabby. And, if you can handle the pay break, the company also allows for an additional 14 weeks of unpaid leave. 4. Patagonia Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Ventura, CA Number Of Employees: 2,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 8 weeks Industry: Retail Policy Highlight: Working parents don't have to stray far from their kids as Patagonia provides on-site child care for kids up to nine years old. The famously laid-back company will also provide afternoon transportation from local schools back to the office babysitter. 5. State Street Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Boston, MA Number Of Employees: 29,530 Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Flexible work arrangements are a must for the busy working dad (or mom). State Street's program helps take the stress out of setting up some work-from-home time by requiring their managers to approach their employees about flexible work options. 6. Genentech Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: San Francisco, CA Number Of Employees: 14,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Biotech Policy Highlight: Along with dedicated paid paternity time, Genentech also offers a sabbatical program for long-term employees. Every six years, you earn six months of time off—perfect for a long summer trip with the kids. 7. LinkedIn Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 6,800 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: LinkedIn likes to encourage employees to think outside their cubicle and, in addition to "special projects" time once a month, you will get a $5,000 stipend for job-related education expenses. Maybe "Childcare 101" would qualify? 8. Arnold & Porter LLP Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Washington D.C. Number Of Employees: 1,284 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks (18 for primary caregiver) Industry: Legal Policy Highlights: If your spouse or partner is gainfully employed and you'd like to trade some of those work hours for family time, Arnold and Porter allows employees working at least 25 hours to qualify for benefits. The firm even has an expert panel on hand to help their lawyers make the switch to part-time. 9. Roche Diagnostics Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN (North American HQ) Number Of Employees: 4,500 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Healthcare Policy Highlight: Roche employees have plenty of opportunities to teach Junior essential life lessons like how to swing a bat or grow a juicy tomato. The company spends $35,000 annually on sponsored extracurriculars like community sports leagues, and also offers an on-site employee produce garden. 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: New York, NY Number Of Employees: 41,000 (U.S.) Paid Parental Leave: 6 weeks (plus an additional 2 weeks if have or adopt more than one kid) Industry: Professional Services Policy Highlight: Another company that values ad-hoc work schedules, PwC allows employees work-from-home options as well as ""Flex Days." So if you can cram 40 hours of work into less than five days and clear your schedule, you could end up with more frequent three-day weekends and more time with the kids. Photo: Shutterstock