As we reflect on the anniversary of the women's march there are things to celebrate and critical areas that need attention specifically from SMB owners. In the corporate world companies on the 2020 Women on Boards' Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 Companies increased the percentage of women on boards to 20.8 percent in 2017. This exceeded the stated goal of 20 percent by 2020 three years early. The increase demonstrates the commitment that many companies have recently made to diversifying their boards and advancing women.  Since 2011, 422 Fortune 1000 companies have added 581 female board seats. Smaller companies, those that rank below the Fortune 500, still have work to do and their numbers are radically lower.  

With the gender gap taking center stage at Davos, and research from both the Kellogg and Sloan Schools suggesting that cognitively diverse teams perform better on hard problems, it's time to act now.  Even Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, agrees it is a "moral imperative" to get more women into technology.  Technology is just one area, and with private companies it is easier to hide since the demand for transparency is not omnipresent.  As beyond merely establishing policies and hiding behind rhetoric, here are three things you had do today to attract, empower and retain female talent. 

Balance 

The first and most obvious thing to do is pay men and woman equally.  Ever hear of that phrase equal pay for equal work?  Earlier this month Iceland made it illegal to pay women less than men for similar work. Equal pay for equal work has actually been a mandate by Icelandic laws since 1961.  Now it is enforced, and the new law applies to companies with 25 employees or more. Currently, two states, Alabama and Mississippi, have no state pay equity or sex-based employment discrimination regulations.  Until we can get public policy in place in America we need to rely on companies to do the right thing. For women out there take a salary negotiation workshop.  For companies, Sameworks is a digital tool that can help you keep track on it all with great ease. 

Mentorship in the Moment

While it is important to have a mentor, an advocate and a coach.  Everyone at every level should practice mentoring in the moment.  Rather than blocking off an hour once a month.  Embrace those teachable moments since lessons are much more memorable when they are in context.  Cultivate this as a culture and you'll have a better place for both women and men.  Super charge your mentoring capabilities effortlessly but utilizing platforms like Everwise

Path to promotion

Warning, this may require busting some bureaucracy, but high performers need a career trajectory or they will leave.  Some women carry the cultural baggage of feeling slightly uncomfortable talking about money.  Any valuable employee should know what the steps are in terms of career progression, and more women must be intentionally groomed for the C-Suite, and given the support they deserve from leadership to enable them to thrive.  What's good for them is good for your business.

Published on: Jan 29, 2018