By Kelly Lockwood Primus, President & COO, Leading Women
Gender Balance. Let those two words sink in for a moment. What do they mean? It’s a term used in business that most companies strive for but very few actually achieve—it’s a culture of parity. In its simplest form, Gender Balance means having a balanced mix of men and women in leadership roles. It means the women in those leadership roles are being paid equally and treated the same as their male colleagues in similar roles. It means women have the same opportunity for advancement as the men in the organization. Does this sound like the company you work for?
Here’s why—until companies fix their culture, they’ll never achieve true balance—and women will never be on a level playing field with their male counterparts, or achieve the same career success, or make the salary they deserve. Think about that. Are you mad yet?
Wait. There’s more.
For too long people have talked about “unconscious bias” as the reason women do not advance as far as men in business. But as a female executive running a consulting firm that specializes in bringing Gender Balance to corporate leadership, I can tell you that I disagree with that reasoning. I believe the biggest reason women do not advance is Gender Dynamics. In other words, it’s the mindsets managers have that cause them to make conscious decisions that create barriers for women’s advancement. Unfortunately, until those mindsets change, little else will.
What can you do about it?
Make the business case to the powers that be in your organization, and help them understand that reaching Gender Balance is not a Women’s issue nor a Human Resources issue. It’s about changing the culture of the organization. That means change has to start at the top with accountability from senior leadership and a commitment to stating and attaining gender diversity goals, just as they would any other business initiative. At , we’ve been saying for years that the organizations that are most successful at attaining their gender diversity goals do so because the CEO has made it one of their top business imperatives—and boy do we love helping companies achieve those goals! Your company may have the best intentions, but unless they change the mindsets of the managers who fuel the culture, women will continue to lag behind men in terms of career growth and pay.
As Women’s History Month winds down and we continue to navigate in today’s #MeToo world, there’s never been a better time for each and every one of us to raise a flag for Gender Balance. Talk to your boss. Reach out to the CEO and other executives you work with. Yell it from the rafters. Just don’t blame it on unconscious bias anymore.