In the past 10 years we have consistently seen an increase in the number of women holding corporate positions, but the trend has failed to reach the depths of the corner office. In 2013 women held approximately 52 percent of all professional level jobs but they only made up 14.6 percent of Fortune 500 executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. Three years ago 15 Fortune 500 companies were run by women, equating to only 3 percent of the marketplace. If you crunch the numbers, every year only an additional two women are earning the title of CEO. At that rate women won’t achieve a 50 percent share of the CEO Fortune 500 marketplace until 2127 or later.
While women have been viewed as too passive as leaders in the past, they have an enormous amount of insight they can offer growing, or even struggling companies, that men simply don’t come by instinctively. And the research will back this. Numerous studies have shown that companies with female’s in executive leadership roles see greater returns on capital invested, and companies who emphasize gender equality do better in the marketplace overall. Having a relatively even number of male and females in both the executive leadership and CEO position’s will increase the bottom line, and that is utterly genderless.
So where do we go from here? The solution to close this gap doesn’t sit with more female leaders and CEOs advocating for women, it’s in the hands of the male leaders and CEOs to recognize women’s value in the workplace. If we continue to allow female CEOs to be the only mentors preparing women to follow in their footsteps, the business world is going to continue to see a glacier pace growth in female leadership. This is not just a travesty in the fight for gender equality, it’s a travesty for the business world at large. So, it starts with you, my male counterparts. We need you 85% to commit to change the face of this country’s leadership. I challenge you to 4…
1. Understand. Educate yourself on the benefits of gender equality in leadership. Seek to understand the differences between the leadership needs of males and females within your organization. Actively solicit feedback from your staff to better understand what each gender requires to take on a leadership positions within your organization.
2. Engage. Talk openly, honestly and without gender bias about leadership roles within your company and be open to providing creative avenues to leadership based on the feedback you receive from your staff. This may include offering flexible working schedules for leaders.
3. Empower. Provide leadership training to female employees early in their careers and often.
4. Promote and Hire. Target women for management roles within your organization and choose the equally qualified female, every time.
If we take these steps to ensure women are being groomed from the beginning of their careers to become leaders, we’ll quickly see more women rising to the top and a healthier and more profitable business environment for all.
Take the pledge and be a member of the movement. #doit4yourdaughters, they’ll be will be the winners if we succeed.