A lot can happen in a century. According to estimates in a recent Women in the Workplace study, that is how long it will take to reach gender parity at the C-Suite level if we continue at our current pace.
Not an encouraging rate. Especially when data from around the world consistently shows organizations reap multiple business benefits when a higher number of women are employed and hold leadership roles, including overall increased productivity, retention and financial performance.
What can be done to move the dial faster? Here are three global organizations doing more to do away with the one-hundred-year track.
1. SAP SE: Linking business strategy to building more women leaders
In addition to setting clear annual goals promoting more women into senior leadership roles, SAP runs an employee resource group (ERG) called the Business Women’s Network (BWN), helping members develop and advance their careers. They've also tackled the STEM talent pipeline crisis by building relationships with prospective employees twelve to eighteen months before graduation. And they identify and address employee perceptions about gender - and gender bias through their People’s Survey. Not to mention they're the first multinational technology company to be awarded an EDGE (Economic Dividends for Gender Equality) certificate.
2. Kuwait Energy: Mentoring more women in a male-dominated sector
As CEO and Co-founder of Kuwait Energy, Sara Akbar is a role model for women within her company, the energy sector, and around the world. Her work continues to pave the way for women facing challenges within this traditionally male-dominated sector, especially in regions where women face added barriers and social and cultural stigma about pursuing careers and achieving workplace success. Akbar helped launch and lead the Coaching Journey program at her company, where women were matched as either coaches or mentees. Participants not only gained greater confidence and clarity about their own career paths, but new skills and insights into senior leadership roles.
3. The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ: Offering leave consulting, ongoing training and cutting-edge benefits
To better support all employees, the bank has an interview, planning and training process in place to connect with parents before, during and after leave. This program not only boosts retention numbers and utilization of cutting-edge childcare benefits, but educates employees on flexible leave policies. Online, interactive training keeps skill sets honed while on leave, and the bank further incents mothers to return by offering them exclusive, additional care-related benefits during the first year following a child’s birth. The bank also works closely with individual employees in the period following leave, helping them get back up to speed quickly, establish routines, and make adjustments to their roles to best support the integration of work and life.
Sharing is good. And just as employees trust and benefit from information gathered from their peers and colleagues, so do employers benefit from openly sharing with one another what works and doesn't work at their organizations. An integral part of breaking the one-hundred-year barrier is the honest and transparent commitment to instituting and measuring regular, ongoing change. And making changes toward greater gender equality in the workplace include implementing better support for everyone's life - both at work and at home.
The above companies are three of more than a dozen, leading global orgzanizations featured in the 2016 International Finance Corporation (IFC)-led SheWorks Knowledge Report. In it, SheWorks-partner employers provide insights, key learnings and business results following the two-year initiatives they undertook to retain and advance more women.
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