Sheryl Sandberg has been encouraging women to lean in at work for years, and now she has proof her efforts are paying off.

While women still hold fewer than 30 percent of senior management positions, they are negotiating more for equal pay and promotions. That's according to the Women in the Workplace 2016 survey of 132 companies, with more than 4.6 million employees, by Lean In, an organization founded by Sandberg to serve as a community and education platform for professional women, and management and consulting firm McKinsey & Company.

Parity is still a long way off, however. Even though the study found women are now asking for raises and promotions as often as their male peers, managers often label them as greedy or not a team player as a result, according to Sandberg, in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. As a result, women are much less likely to be promoted into management, setting them on a track to fall behind for the rest of their careers.

The good news is that there are steps companies can take to fix it. Here are three:

1. Set goals and report the numbers

The best place to start, Sandberg says, is simply to set goals and report on the company's progress. Of the companies surveyed for the study, fewer than 35 percent were striving for set targets on gender breakdown of hiring and promotions. If gender diversity becomes a measuring stick by which managers and the company are evaluated, it's more likely to become a top priority.

2. Move gender diversity beyond the CEO

While more than a third of companies said gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO, only half of managers say they know how to address gender diversity. And only a quarter of employees say managers actively challenge biased language or behavior in the workplace. This top-to-bottom disconnect could signal that just because gender diversity is on the list of talking points for a CEO, managers and employees have not been given the proper training to follow that mandate.

3. Talk openly about stereotypes

Sandberg writes that women are taking an important step to pay and promotion equality--they're asking for it. However, women are still promoted less than men, and those that do negotiate are 67 percent more likely, than men or than women who don't negotiate, to have their personal style described in reviews as "bossy" or "too aggressive." Invest in gender-bias training so managers can recognize these trigger words and redirect the conversation. The simplest way to start is by asking, "If a male employee had this conversation with you, would you find him to be too aggressive?" In reviews, talk openly about gender stereotypes and make sure women are always considered for leadership positions and personal development opportunities, and recognized for their contributions.

Published on: Sep 27, 2016