Step Four In The Path To Parity: Base Career Progress on Business Results and Performance, Not on Presence

The Path to Parity with Paradigm for Parity’s 5-Point Action Plan

Women are underrepresented at almost every level in the corporate pipeline, and they are drastically underrepresented at the senior levels. And while company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high, calls for greater diversity haven’t moved the needle.

There is widespread agreement that more needs to be done. The Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan is the solution. When implemented together, the five steps can catalyze change and enable substantial progress towards gender parity.

As part of our Path to Parity series, this week we’re showcasing the fourth step in the Action Plan: Basing career progress on business results and performance, rather than physical presence in the office, with insights from Paradigm for Parity® companies.

Doing business today is 24/7. With access to email and text on laptops, phones, tablets and even watches — employees are always available. One of the benefits is that employees can work from wherever, whenever. Employees have the option to work remotely or with flexible hours which can be a benefit for attracting and retaining stand-out talent.

The Paradigm for Parity® coalition encourages companies to try to give women and men control over where and how they work. Having flexible work environments is critical to elevating women into leadership positions. In fact, a Catalyst study found that: “83% of women with access to FWAs (Flexible Work Arrangements) aspired to the C-Suite level vs. just 54% of women without FWA access”.

Sheri Bronstein, Global Human Resources Executive of Bank of America, explains how Bank of America is providing employees flexibility: “We know our employees don’t stop being parents, spouses or caregivers when they come to work. That’s why we invest in programs and benefits that are designed to support the diverse needs of our employees — many of which are designed to help the women who work here manage the demanding challenges of work and personal life. Through programs such as our child care reimbursement, back up care program for children and adults, 16 weeks of paid parental leave, and our life events support team, we work to support employees when they need us most.”

Joyce Russell, President of Adecco Staffing US, explains the benefits of flexibility for companies: “On my own team, flexibility fosters trust, productivity and authenticity as colleagues are empowered to be honest when there’s a way for them to get the job done more efficiently while also meeting their personal needs. I believe my people are operating at their prime because we’ve created a culture where we understand work does not encompass the entire realm of one’s life. People appreciate that, and they’re more motivated to produce the best results they possibly can because of it.”

Karyn Twaronite, the Global Diversity & Inclusion Officer of EY, showcases the importance of flexibility for attracting the top talent, “At EY, flexibility is embedded in our culture and is available to everyone regardless of gender and whether they are married or single, with or without children. Providing workplace flexibility helps us to attract and retain people with diverse interests inside and outside the office.”

Today, more women are choosing to stay in the workplace — if they can strike the right balance between workplace and home life. While the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 70 percent of mothers with children under 18 participate in the workforce, that isn’t possible for everyone. A Kaiser Family Foundation/New York Times/CBS poll of non-working adults found that 61 percent of women polled said the reason they left the workforce was because of family responsibilities.

A recent study from the Working Mother Research Institute found that 40 percent of women said a flexible schedule and work culture was the most important factor when choosing a place to work, ranking it higher than pay and benefits.

Julie Fasone Holder, a founding member of the Paradigm for Parity® coalition, emphasizes the importance of supporting women in their child-bearing years to encourage their participation in the future. “Women have a unique situation — child-bearing years — and if companies want to be successful in developing and retaining them, they need strategies to help them through these years. Women may need more flexibility during these years or even to take a break. Companies need strategies to accommodate and stay in touch. Research shows that the single most important factor that affects women’s loyalty is how she is treated during her maternity leave”.

Michele Chase, a Managing Director of Worldwide Human Resources at Burson-Marsteller, talks about the benefits of having policies that promote balance.Companies that give ‘guilt free’ support and provide such accommodations will retain their female workforce more readily than those for which the opposite is true. I believe it’s important for working women to be able to celebrate having children, and women in leadership positions need to champion that across the board”.

As Gail Jackson, the Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion at UTC, notes, “when a company supports work-family balance, it benefits all of us. Men and women are more likely to give that discretionary effort if they believe the company supports them”.

Agnieszka Yank, the Chief Talent Officer of APCO Worldwide, shares the policies that APCO Worldwide is putting in place. To better support work-family balance, APCO expanded its North America paid parental leave policy. Companies can undertake similar actions to show their support for employees and establish themselves as a true partner in the employee’s growth and development at work and at home. Investing in a company’s success first necessitates investing in its employees.”

Creating a world where companies provide a positive work-life balance will not only help women succeed, but will help companies succeed. By embracing our 5-Point Action Plan, companies can ensure gender balance in senior operating roles and move forward on the path to gender parity.

About the Paradigm for Parity® Movement

The Paradigm for Parity® coalition is composed of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in corporate leadership: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity.

The coalition created the Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan for corporations to accelerate the pace of gender equity in senior executive roles. This unique agenda defines bold and specific actions that, taken together and simultaneously implemented as a package, will catalyze change and enable today’s business executives to secure the best leaders of tomorrow. Visit www.paradigm4parity.com or follow us on Twitter using @p4parity to learn more about this exciting initiative.