We’ve been hearing forever that there need be more women in the C-Suite. Tiny baby steps have gradually been pushing this into becoming a reality. But maybe it will finally happen… in 2030. I know, that sounds like a very long time to wait for women who have only seen microscopic changes. But 27 companies have now put it into a pledge to reach gender parity by that time. It seems like a lofty goal. Only a mere 19% of top executive positions are currently held by women.
Companies Agree to Set Goals
CEOs from Bank of America, Linked In, Coca Cola, American Electric Power, Nordstrom, and Newmont Mining Corporation have agreed to set diversity hiring goals. They will hold themselves accountable with regular progress reports.
Top level mangers at Johnson & Johnson’s will have a portion of their bonuses tied to meeting certain diversity metrics. This will include how many women were hired in the previous year.
BASF set a gender diversity goal. To “raise the overall proportion of women in positions with disciplinary leadership responsibilities from today’s 19% to 22%–24% globally by 2021.”
Diversity for Women is Good for Innovation
Simply putting more women in the C-Suite just for the sake of gender equity wouldn’t be a smart business move. But studies show that gender diversity is good for the bottom line and for innovation in a company. Does this mean more diversity for women?
A recent Gallup study of 800 business units from 2 companies in different industries showed that business units that are more gender diverse have better financial outcomes. A study was recently done by Catlyst, (a non profit organization focused on workplace inclusion). It was on gender diversity on boards. It showed that “on average, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least by 66%.”
Another smart business move they will be implementing is to evaluate the women executives based on their performance. They’ll also base their impact on the company and promote accordingly.
The idea for Paradigm for Parity originated from several female executives who were tired of the snail pace of women advancement in the C-Suite. They came up with a plan to accelerate the pace. Then they enlisted other male and female executives to join them.
Chief executive at Accenture, Pierre Nanterme set an aggressive goal of 40% new women hires world-wide by 2017. They’ve also discussed hiring by using “blind” resumes.
Diverse Companies Are More Innovative
According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s website:
Research shows that diverse companies are better at recruiting top talent, retaining employees and registering economic results. For example, research of 366 public companies found that those in the top quartile for ethnic and racial diversity in management were 35 percent more likely to have financial returns above their industry medians. Meanwhile, a 2018 study from North Carolina State’s Poole College of Management found that taking steps to foster diversity made companies more innovative. This was measured by product development, number of patents created and citations on patents.
The more diverse your team is the more diverse your ideas will be. This is great for innovation. I spoke about this topic at a large event for Proctor and Gamble. Men and women have different ways of thinking. You need both for the best possible outcomes in innovation.
When science labs were studied for research, cameras captured scientists working on an experiment. They found that when a test went wrong, men would overwhelmingly want to throw the whole test out. But women would want to see if they could salvage something from it. They wanted to see if they could fix it.
A science experiment that almost wasn’t
This is exactly what happened to scientist Stephanie Kwolek. She had spent months experimenting with stiff chain polymers. One day she prepared a solution that was different. When she stirred it it turned into a pearlescent color. She put some on a spatula and let the solution flow downward. It was thin, but stuck together like glue. Her first thought was that her employer, Du Pont could spin it into a fiber. So she took it to a technician.
But the technician refused to put it in the spinning device because it might clog it, due to the cloudiness of it. He said the cloudiness meant that there were solid particles which would jam the machine. So she went back to the lab and got to work. She filtered out any solid particles but the solution was still cloudy, which meant that it didn’t have solid particles.
It took weeks for her to convince the technician to let her run it through the spinning machine. But he finally gave in. When she got the reports back from the test she couldn’t believe it. She thought it was a mistake. Little did she know at the time, but Stephanie had just invented one of the strongest fibers in the world. Not only strong, but lightweight.
If it had been left up to her male technician we might not have a material that has saved countless lives. She wouldn’t give up on the idea that the solution she invented by mistake needed to be given a chance to prove its value. Men and women have different ways of thinking and that’s what makes it important to have both voices and opinions in the room. Both opinions are needed at the C-Suite level in order for innovation to progress.
Many executives hope to set off a chain reaction in other companies so the goal of wide-spread gender parity will finally be reached. Do you think gender parity will ever be reached?