“Gender Equity”

How long to achieve it?

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg defines “gender equity” best:

“Women should be at every table where decisions are being made,” she said.

Numerous heroic women have knocked down hurdles over the years, but there remains much work to be done. Having spent my own career in a male-dominated industry, I was recently asked to share some of my experiences, lessons and advice during a panel discussion hosted by Willis Towers Watson for their employees last month to honor International Women’s Day.

My fellow panelists, Anne Bodnar, Chief Human Resources Officer at Willis Towers Watson, and Candy Beck, Director, Corporate Benefits at Chico’s FAS, Inc. are key stewards of their companies’ inclusion and diversity initiatives. They are proactively positioning women to lead. Both companies are also leaders in the number of women on their boards: Willis Towers Watson is at 30 percent and Chico’s FAS is at 56 percent, with 63 percent of its Executive Committee seats held by women.

Here are some other best practices the three of us shared:

  • When reviewing job applications, remove names to eliminate potential biases.

  • Teach women how to build beneficial and strategic networks, something many men have perfected to meet their career needs.

  • Find opportunities to bring people from different lines of business to problem-solving and strategizing.

  • Speak up and be heard.

  • Seek out a male mentor you respect.

Women are critical to fostering a culture of trust, and we value healthy conflict to get to the best decision. At the companies where I have worked, we pushed accountability down the organizational chart, and made sure our colleagues felt valued and heard.

So how can we move these practices forward? We need to have more women in the C-suite and on boards of directors, and it needs to happen now. Nationally, the Women Executive Leadership “2020 Women on Boards” initiative is a great place to get involved.

Let’s hit 20 percent of women on boards by 2020.  www.womenexecutiveleadership.com