During this time of reckoning – where women’s rights and gender equality in the workplace are top of mind, it is essential to celebrate the wins that have and will continue to move the needle in the right direction regarding leadership and inclusion of women in the workplace. To date, there are 27 women with CEO titles at fortune 500 companies. companies are not the only success metric; history has shown that small steps toward progress make a significant difference for future generations.
In honor of International Women’s Day, read on to learn what steps you can take to ensure progress continues to move forward for women in the workplace.
If you do not see your place, create it
In recent years women founded several game-changing companies with loyal customers who are more like brand ambassadors that traditional consumers. Glossier, Soulcycle, Drybar, Goop and Spanx, are all companies founded by women that have all disrupted their respective industries. The initial intent was never category domination. Instead, they recognized inefficiencies and developed a compelling delivery system ensuring a memorable customer experience.
Women supporting women
When Glossier CEO, Emily Weiss set out to raise funding for her company she was rejected 11 times before she received the funding she needed. That one “yes” came from San Francisco VC Kirsten Green who was interested in brands started by women. Looking back, Green says she had a gut instinct regarding Weiss and her vision, “I thought, I need to work with this woman. I don’t know what we’re going to build, but it’s going to be different and interesting.”
Starting a company is an opportunity to look at the frustrations employees historically encounter and cater to their lifestyle to improve overall satisfaction and retention. In an interview for Moneyish, Goop CCO Elise Loehnen said, “When a company wants to be really prescriptive about how you spend your time, and where you spend it, it doesn’t work for moms… Gwyneth established a culture where having kids is part of our identity. She’s the first person to be like ‘I’ve got to peace out’ — someone has a basketball game or parent-teacher conference.”
An apparent shift takes place when women occupy leadership roles. Company culture is designed to develop empathy, and employee happiness is a top priority. At SoulCycle, 86 percent of company leadership is women contributing to “the warm, caring way we operate.” says CEO Melanie Whelan in an interview with Vogue magazine. Along with free SoulCycle classes, corporate employees at every level are required to work the front desk at local cycling studios to cultivate a culture of equality and community. The company was most recently valued at $99 million back in 2015.
The System does not change on its own
There is a multitude of reasons why it is important to have women in key decision-making roles, when it comes to hiring and promotion it’s crucial. Chief Innovation officer of CAA Michelle Kydd Lee said, “Recognize when women do great work. Appreciate it. Celebrate it. Reward it.” The pattern of support and recognition starts at the top and is modeled by the more extensive team.
“People always say, ‘You don’t look like a computer scientist.’… Most of my female peers just don’t imagine themselves as computer scientists, so they don’t do it.” However, the reality is that by 2024, studies predict there to be roughly 1.1 million computing-related vacancies, with only 41% of these jobs getting filled.
One organization striving to close the gender gap in technology is Girls Who Code. Founder Reshma Saujani said, “In the ’80s, ’90s and now, when you turn on the television you’re inundated from Grey’s Anatomy to Ally McBeal to L.A. Law shows that have women who are fabulous and smart and interesting — that are doctors and lawyers — and little girls raise their hand and say ‘me too’,” she said. “And the opposite thing has happened in technology.”
The need to attract, women and minorities to these roles is paramount for institutions to realize success, innovation, and progress.
The goal is not to skew the ratio in favor of women in leadership but rather to ensure that everyone has an equal chance for, promotions, jobs, raises and compensation. Companies like Adobe, Apple and eBay to name a few have all taken deliberate action to ensure all employees are given equal pay for equal work. Adobe explicitly said it will reach pay parity globally this year between men and women.
How is your company improving the workplace for women? Share your company practices in the comments below.