There has been so much talk about the glass ceiling and what can be done to permanently shatter it. Yet, try as they might, corporations still have not been able to do so. Progress has been made, but not nearly enough. Currently, there are only 24 female CEOs in the Fortune 500. As bad as that is, there was only 1 in 1998! Curiously, 9 of the 24 are CEOs of companies in the Fortune 100, which is a rate more than double the Fortune 500. Perhaps this is due in part to more visibility and public pressure. Regardless, even this percentage is too small.

Yesterday I wrote about how professional sports has a unique opportunity to serve as catalyst to shatter the glass ceiling and gender stereotypes. At the same time nobody should sit idly by waiting for that to happen; you shouldn't wait for anybody, because you can make a difference today.

Here are 10 things you can do now to help address this problem:

  1. Get off the sideline: instead be active and vocal in your advocacy. There is often nothing more important than a male leader standing up and advocating for female leaders.
  2. Develop a strong pipeline: don't only focus on senior roles. The best long-term strategy is to develop female talent early in their career and create a pipeline of future leaders.
  3. Drop old ways of working: provide flexible working arrangements that allow others to balance priorities while still exceeding.
  4. Create rotational programs: broad business exposure is one of the best ways to develop leaders. Place females in different roles to help them learn the business and contribute in different ways.
  5. Find mentors: ensure female employees have mentors--both male and female
  6. Provide continuous development: actively place women into formal development programs, but also be sure that there is ongoing informal development throughout their career.
  7. Focused career conversations: don't just assume you know what someone wants. Take the time to ask about their desires and needs.
  8. Identify gaps: everyone has areas in which they can improve. Identifying these are the first step, and then you need to help them fill those gaps.
  9. Take risks: ignore traditional processes and put females into stretch assignments; or even consider two level promotions for the best qualified
  10. Rely on skill / potential: too many hiring decisions are made on similarity and comfort. Throw this out the window and rely on skill and potential.

Unfortunately data supports hidden gender bias that can hold females back. The same resume is viewed differently if the name is switched from male to female. Not only are fictitious females deemed less competent and hirable, they are also offered lower starting salaries than the fictitious male applicants with the same qualifications.

Fortunately you can be part of the solution to do something about this. Start today!

Published on: Jul 29, 2015
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.