Before identifying what Best in Class looks like it’s important to understand the current state. Examine this image from LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company’s annual Women in the Workplace study 2019. For too long, women, especially women of color, remain under-represented in senior leadership positions (Director and above). The numbers have improved only incrementally through the years. According to the World Economic Forum, it will take 200 years in the US to achieve parity. As a benchmark, in 2020, the current percentages in the US population are: Women 51%, Hispanic 18%, Black 13%, Asian 6%, Two or more 3%, American Indian/Native Alaskan 1%, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander 0.2%.
Many people wonder if getting to 50% is rational or even possible. When there’s a level playing field and a culture that appreciates and values women’s contributions the answer is- Yes! The recipe for success is straightforward. We call it the ShowMe50 Win-Win Checklist. It starts with visible commitment from the CEO to execute on these key gender equity tenets:
- Skill-based gender bias training that compels culture change
- Objective and transparent performance evaluation and talent management systems
- Work-life Effectiveness approach to workplace flexibility
- Executive Accountability
This page is dedicated to the companies that are getting it right. They are showing that getting to 50% is not only an intelligent business strategy but that it’s achievable. One thing is certain. It can only happen when the CEO commits the financial resources, uses his/her political capital to enforce bias checks and balances, and holds leaders accountable. A company is the behavior it tolerates.
A great example of Best in Class is Unilever. In 2020, a year ahead of schedule, they achieved their goal of 50% women in all positions globally. They’re journey has spanned over a decade. The turning point was the development and execution of the Gender Appointment Ratio which measures senior leaders’ track records in appointing women. View the video on their success.
Below is a list of other Best in Class companies through recent years. They have created Best Places to Work not just for women, but for all employees. You can read about the investments these forward-thinking organizations have made to break down structural bias, advance talent, and strengthen their organizations as a whole at the Catalyst award winner web page.
Now that we know it can be done and how, we need to pressure CEO’s to walk the talk by committing the financial resources, using their political capital to enforce bias checks and balances, and holding their leaders accountable. We need to stop accepting less than equal opportunity for all.