The Paradigm for Parity Roadmap: A Guide For Companies Celebrating International Women’s Day

Kathleen Luparello, Executive Director of Paradigm for Parity®

As we celebrate the many achievements and contributions of women this International Women’s Day, we must not forget that to achieve true equality, women must have the same opportunity, access and power as men. And for companies that prioritize creating a culture of equality, the data show that women are four times more likely to reach senior manager and director levels, according to research released this week by Accenture. Accenture is on the forefront of closing the gender gap and is one of 65 companies that are using the Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan to achieve gender parity in leadership positions.

We applaud the 65 companies, including Walmart, Anthem, LinkedIn, Bank of America and many others that are taking actionable steps to get more women into leadership positions, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is good for business. The Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan provides companies real, tangible steps to take in order to catalyze change and achieve parity in leadership by 2030.

To begin, companies need to minimize and work to eliminate unconscious bias. Paradigm for Parity® encourages all companies to conduct unconscious bias trainings, engaging men and women at all levels, starting with the CEO and senior leadership, to be more aware of their decision making. Company leaders need to understand and address the conscious and unconscious biases that prevent women from succeeding and work to change them.

Simultaneously, CEOs and senior leadership need to make increasing the number of women in senior operating roles a priority. We want to achieve full gender parity across the corporate world but as a near term goal, companies can set a target to have a single gender account for no more than 70% of a leadership level, from the Executive Management Group downward. Gender parity will not happen overnight, but setting short term goals will ensure progress is made.

As a company commits to putting in place programs to elevate women, it’s critical to establish a baseline and measure results because that’s the only way to ensure that culture change will happen. At every level, companies should keep track of their hires and communicate progress and results regularly. Setting measurable goals is a surefire way to create accountability and reach gender parity.

Concurrently, companies must base career progress on business results and performance, not on presence. Leadership should think about how to give women and men control over where and how they work, whenever possible. Managers can explore new ways to work more flexibly to meet the needs of all employees. This should all be part of an effort to drive a change in corporate culture so that working flexibly is embraced, and not an underused and over talked about benefit.

Lastly, identifying women of potential and giving them sponsors is key to achieving gender parity. Women of all backgrounds need career sponsors and access to networks of influence. It isn’t enough to have someone to give you advice, you need someone in the room that will go to bat for you. That’s where the sponsor comes in. Leaders need to look for the best within their organizations and help women to succeed by assigning a sponsor. Importantly, with men still in the majority of leadership positions, they have a critical role to play in advocating for women, both internally and in the wider corporate world. Men have natural sponsors but women often fall through the cracks. That’s exactly why companies need to make sponsorship a priority.

As companies take time this International Women’s Day to recognize women, it’s important to go beyond recognition and work to create an environment where women have the same opportunities for success as men and the Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan is the best place to start.

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.