Attitudes toward women in education and the workplace have changed dramatically over the last several decades. However, while women have made great strides in education, challenging gender disparity in the professional arena still requires a commitment by those in leadership. In many cases, it’s simply that things continue to be done the way they always have been.
Change has to begin with a clear and visible CEO commitment, reframing the challenge as a business imperative. It’s been well-documented that companies with women on their executive committees perform better financially, yet women are barely present on boards and remain underrepresented in corporate leadership roles. Embracing the idea that diversity drives innovation and maximizes the talent pool better equips companies to win.
So far much of the burden of closing the gender gap has rested with women who currently hold leadership roles. We act as visible role models who build a framework that supports work/life balance, and we often personally mentor other women in our organization. But there aren’t enough of us. Try as we might, our impact cannot multiply quick enough to gain the ground we need to catch up. That same commitment has to be modeled across genders and throughout the business for a true cultural shift to take root.
More importantly, C-suite commitment to talent planning must include identifying up-and-coming talented women and direct mentorship from every one of the most senior leaders in the organization. I’m fortunate to be in an organization that sees diversity in the workplace as a business imperative, and in a position where I can continue to be an advocate for that.
Access, accompanied by mentorship, driven by a clear business imperative from the top and supported by an inclusive business culture—if we can accomplish this, we will see the numbers grow.