Jewelle Bickford explains how CEOs can and must use gender lens strategy to support women in documentary Covid, Women and the US Economy.
In a BBC documentary about the impact of COVID on the economy and women in the workplace, Paradigm for Parity® Co-Chair Jewelle Bickford spoke with Nada Tawfik about the critical role CEOs play in achieving gender parity and the specific steps companies can take to support the advancement of women.
Bickford was optimistic that more employers will soon realize that hiring and advancing women of all backgrounds benefits everyone, saying “Those companies that have women on the board and in the C-Suite and throughout the company show 25% more profitability, so once companies know it’s more profitable, it lowers income inequality, and it helps stabilize the family structure, it’s a win-win.”
Bickford proposed action steps that companies can take to create an equitable workplace. These steps are part of the Paradigm for Parity® coalition’s 5-Point Action Plan to help companies accelerate the pace of achieving gender parity.
Minimize or Eliminate Unconscious Bias. Initiate unconscious bias training. Engage women and men at all levels, starting with the CEO and senior leadership. Ensure that your company leaders comprehend, own and address the conscious and unconscious biases that prevent women from succeeding.
Significantly Increase the Number of Women in Senior Operating Roles. Make full gender parity (50/50) your ultimate goal. As a near term goal, target that a single gender will not account for more than 70% of a leadership level, from the Executive Management Group downward. Move to 60% as a medium term goal.
Measure Targets at Every Level and Communicate Progress and Results Regularly. Set measurable goals and hold yourself and your senior team accountable. Communicate results to your wider organization and board. Expect meaningful progress each year, with the aim of parity by 2030. Work with investors as they increase the pressure to measure and monitor diversity progress. Share statistics with other CEOs and consider publishing results over time.
Base Career Progress on Business Results and Performance, Not on Presence. Give women and men control over where and how they work, whenever workable. Acknowledge the needs and expectations of Millennials, an important talent pool. Find ways to work more flexibly to meet the needs of all employees. Create cultural change so that working flexibly is embraced, and not an underused and over talked about benefit.
Identify Women of Potential and Give Them Sponsors, as well as Mentors. Meritocracy is an often used, and more importantly misused, belief because our biases affect our view of performance and merit. Women of all backgrounds need career sponsors and access to networks of influence. Men, who are still the majority of leadership, have a critical role to play in advocating for women, both internally and in the wider corporate world. Look for the best within your organization and help them to succeed by assigning each woman a mentor and a sponsor.
The full BBC documentary “Covid, women and the US economy” is HERE.
About Paradigm for Parity®
The Paradigm for Parity® movement is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap. The coalition is made up of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity. Our ultimate goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30% of senior roles.