Let's talk numbers. According to the 2017 Women in the Workplace report from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, 52 percent of the U.S. population is female. Yet, women make up just 20 percent of C-suite executives. In fact, when looking at all  senior positions, only 10 percent of these leaders are women.

Clearly, the glass ceiling is still uncracked.

However, offering women a fair chance at C-suite jobs benefits not only the women themselves, but also companies overall. In fact, the report found 90 percent of organizations prioritize gender diversity because it leads to better business results. This is likely due to the varied experiences, opinions, and perspectives women bring.

As the fight for parity continues, here are a few tips to work together to shatter the C-suite ceiling:

1. Take the pledge.

Companies like Lyft, Ralph Lauren Company, Cisco, and Accompany are making moves toward gender equality by taking the  ParityPledge. The pledge is a promise to interview at least one qualified woman for every open position vice president level and higher.

As a result, these organizations are seeing positive changes. Amy Chang, the founder and CEO of artificial intelligence technology company Accompany, happily reports that 60 percent of their executives are females. They have a variety of leaders and problem-solving styles, which she described as a huge business asset.

Take the ParityPledge to show commitment to the cause and weave gender equality into the foundation of your company. This will tell both current and future employees that regardless of their gender, they have equal opportunities to advance their careers.

"We will promote those that sign with us with the hope of attracting and encouraging other companies to take the pledge. The more companies that agree to interview senior executives that are women, the faster we can change the corporate profile," said Cathrin Stickney, CEO and founder at Parity.org.  

2. Have an action plan.

The Paradigm for Parity movement is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. It consists of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics committed to creating a corporate world where women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity.

To do this, the movement created a clear five-step plan:

  1. Minimize or eliminate unconscious bias.

  2. Significantly increase the number of women in senior operating roles.

  3. Measure targets at every level and communicate progress and results regularly.

  4. Base career progress on business results and performance, not on presence.

  5. Identify women of potential and give them sponsors, as well as mentors.

"The Action Plan was designed by senior women who have had management positions at the highest corporate level," said Jewelle Bickford, co-chair of Paradigm for Parity. "They know what works and what is needed to achieve success and inclusiveness."

While the Paradigm for Parity's steps are a great starting place, every organization is different. Remember, nothing is set in stone. Alter the process based on measuring and tracking results. As the plan moves forward, everyone will be more accountable for their actions.

3. Make it a team effort.

Bringing everyone together to focus on inequality requires both men and women to have a conversation, according to Josh James, CEO of data management platform Domo.

"Men, especially those in leadership positions, need to understand the many factors that are holding back women. Then help drive solutions that remove the friction in the workplace," James said.

Getting the conversation flowing about gender equality in the workplace opens the door for other inequality issues. It's crucial to not only let these conversations happen, but also encourage them in a safe, judgment-free environment.

Start by building a diversity committee to focus on improving parity at every level of the organization. Give them a set time to meet every month and determine where company equality lies, discuss solutions, and address problems co-workers have raised.

Get even more employees involved by including them in critical company processes, like hiring or promotion procedures. Adding a diverse group of individuals will broaden perspectives and enhance the company's opportunities for solving inequality issues throughout the organization.

4. Start change at the top.

Many companies focus on creating gender equality at all levels of the organization. However, for there to be lasting change, more women need to be in leadership roles. Then, decisions and viewpoints of these high-ranking women will trick down to improve the professional lives of other women. there need to be more women in power.

Get the wheels of parity in motion by ensuring company leaders understand specific, gender-biased situations women in the organization are struggling to overcome. As leaders pursue change, they must keep one another accountable by revisiting policies, data, and employee feedback.

Published on: Oct 19, 2017