Surprisingly enough, While 66 percent of companies have diversity hiring strategies, according to McKinsey and LeanIn.org, only 25 percent have set targets for gender diversity. Moreover, if you look at C-suite positions, female representation plummets to only about 20 percent. That’s despite the fact that equal representation in leadership roles offers compelling financial benefits to companies, with study after study showing that companies with more gender diversity in their leadership perform better in the marketplace.
How can companies make their gender equality aspirations a reality? Having recently returned from a session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, which shed valuable light on how organizations can unlock the full potential of women, I’m more optimistic than ever that we can meet this challenge head-on.
As CEO of Webpals Group, a leading high-tech company, I attended the UN event to discuss the integral importance of diversity and opportunity at our company – and while I came to share the lessons of Webpals’ success as a dynamic and diverse company, I left with newfound inspiration for how we can use our platforms to foster truly inclusive workplaces.
Where does the change begin? For billions of women and girls across the world, it often starts with a single role model. Studies have shown that women are influenced by “exposure to counter-stereotypical female role models.” As role models, women can encourage other females to make different choices in life.
According to our data, having high female representation, especially at the executive level, can boost talent acquisition efforts. At Webpals, we have close to 400 workers, half of whom are women. In addition, women make up 67 percent of the company’s management. Other women see equality at the senior level and realize our company has no glass ceiling.
Of course, gender imbalances don’t end with simply hiring more women; indeed, that’s where a whole new set of inequities often arises, Studies reveal that women have lower salary expectations than men. In addition, they are less likely to get a raise. Webpals Group combats pay inequality by leveling salaries and offering employees at the same level in the company the same salary increase, without gender discrimination. Before putting a salary offer on the table or offering a raise, we examine salary benchmarks on the market, assess a person’s skills, and look at their experience. We also promote women during pregnancy to offer a new challenge for employees to anticipate upon their return.
Intuit’s Scott Beth spotlighted another way for organizations to close the pay gap.
“One way we’re doing this is no longer asking candidates for their pay history when they join us,” Beth said.
Encouragingly, number of states and localities in the U.S. are taking the same approach.
Participants shared a wide range of additional tactics for promoting gender inclusion, providing rich fodder for discussion. Here are some of the most impactful pathways to workplace equality:
- Building deep empathy – According to Beth, Intuit conducts interviews to better gauge what it means to women and men to feel included. To pinpoint areas with room for improvement, Intuit evaluates employees’ sense of belonging and brings managerial resources to bear to ensure inclusion.
- Encouraging women to dream big – Dr. Mazal Shaul, CEO of WePower, revealed that her organization leverages its resources to locate, train, and encourage women to dream big and pursue public and governmental positions. When organizations empower women to envision themselves in impactful roles, they plant the seeds that enable gender equality to flourish.
- Exploring the legal aspects of gender equality – Bathylle Missika, Head of Division-Networks, Partnerships and Gender- in the OECD reminded us that in Israel, the legal framework has yet to catch up with societal advances, and there is still room to grow in enabling the advancement and acceptance of women in certain professions.
- Empowering our daughters – Missika discussed how men are constantly pushing for promotions, while women rarely do. In general, women concern themselves with the 10% they don’t know, and men focus on the 60% they We must empower our daughters not to fear what they don’t know and to be as confident and forward as their male counterparts.
Thanks to our esteemed partners at Parliament 51, a group that moves mountains to foster diversity and achieve gender equality in the workplace, we were able to leverage the UN event to the fullest, making strides towards gender equality and diversity.
It was a privilege to join global leaders, including Israel’s Minister for Social Equality Gila Gamliel, and promote equality and diversity. After visiting the United Nations and sharing my insights with such an inspiring group of people, I’ve redoubled my commitment to breaking down all barriers to women’s full and equal participation in the workplace.