Corporate America has a long way to go to achieve gender parity. Only 27 S&P 500 companies have female CEOs. While research affirms companies with diverse leadership perform better, many grapple with how to address gender imbalances.
After 35 years in the workforce, including seven as CEO of DuPont, it was clear to me that corporate culture needed to change. In 2016, a group of women business leaders launched the Paradigm for Parity® coalition to achieve gender parity in corporate leadership by 2030. We created the following Five-Point Action Plan that member companies agree to implement:
1. Minimize or eliminate unconscious bias
Initiate unconscious bias training and ensure company leaders comprehend, own, and address the conscious and unconscious biases that prevent women from succeeding.
2.Significantly increase the number of women in senior operating roles
Since gender parity (50/50) is your ultimate goal, target as a short-term goal that a single gender will not account for more than 70 percent of a leadership level.
3. Measure targets at every level and communicate progress regularly
Set measurable goals and hold yourself and your senior team accountable. Communicate results to your wider organization and board.
4. Base career progress on business results and performance
This shouldn’t be measured by presence alone.Give women and men control over where and how they work. Create cultural change that acknowledges the needs of all employees.
5. Identify women with leadership potential, and give them sponsors and mentors
Look for the best within your organization and help them succeed by assigning each woman a mentor and a sponsor.
Culture change is challenging, but it is encouraging that 105 companies (and counting) believe that when a CEO commits to implementing these steps simultaneously, companies will increase the number of women — of all races, cultures, and backgrounds — in leadership positions.