Perhaps your company has made inroads toward gender equality, as many companies have with female leaders in place. But they could do a lot more, you’re probably thinking. Well, let’s take a look at what makes some companies – the ones that made the National Association for Female Executives’ (NAFE’s) annual list of “Top 70 Companies for Executive Women” – stand out from the rest.
Women-centric programs and policies
These “Top 70” have programs and policies that promote women and have managers that are trained to help women advance to top spots, such as:
- Allstate: Since launching the Power of 5 sponsorship program designed to pair women with leaders in 2015, 20% of participants were promoted and 50% at the director level were promoted to VP.
- Katten: The law firm’s Partner Pipeline Committee identifies women who are rising stars and offers them additional mentoring, coaching and training needed to help overcome potential obstacles for advancement.
- JLL: Besides its employee resource group (ERG) – Women’s Business Network, women make up nearly half of the real estate management firm’s board of directors.
- Zoetis: The animal health company not only has mentoring and leadership development programs, ERGs and work-life balance initiatives, its nine-member executive team includes four women.
- Abbott: The health care company started an ERG called Women Leaders of Abbott made up of mentoring circles of 10-15 people who meet with an executive leader for 6-12 months to learn how to lead teams.
Women’s journey up the ladder
But there’s a lot more that made these companies stand out to NAFE. “In 2019, a woman’s journey up the corporate ladder still differs from a man’s, but the top companies stand out in their application of remedies,” said Betty Spence, NAFE president.
For instance, Unilever USA, which made the list, offers extended paid parental leave for mothers and fathers, fertility support, adoption assistance and back-up child care options in addition to flexible schedules, remote work and job sharing.
‘First Movers’ make equality a priority
IBM (which also made NAFE’s list) has a name for companies that make advancing women into leadership roles a business priority: First Movers. IBM, which published a report on First Movers, “Women, leadership and the priority paradox,” offers a lot of advice that those in leadership can use to turn their company into a First Mover, such as:
Start at the top: Only the senior executives have the power to elevate gender equality in leadership to a key strategic business priority. Make it a business priority of yours to get buy-in from upper management, just as you would any other business priority.
Hold leaders accountable: If leaders fail to meet their gender-equity goals, it shouldn’t be glossed over. Companies should use metrics to create measurable goals and milestones on this front. It’s no different than if they had missed one of their other strategic objectives.
Create a pipeline of future female leaders: Structure a program, backed by measurable goals, to get qualified female candidates ready to assume leadership roles when openings become available. Keep tabs on your candidates by having them check with you on a regular basis to relay their recent accomplishments.
Lastly, ask yourself, “What can my company do to help men become allies in the effort to advance more women?” Many well-meaning men are prone to blind spots. Is there anything you can you do to make them see that championing women is good for business?