Corporations need to embrace a holistic set of initiatives and focus on sustaining their efforts over time. According to the 2017 Mckinsey Global Institute study The Power of Parity, in Canada, best-in-class companies use five initiatives to drive progress:
Go beyond a vocal commitment to diversity and build actions based on a clear business case for change.
More than half of the companies in the McKinsey survey consider gender diversity a top ten strategic priority, but very few have included business performance factors in their path forward. As a result, employees see gender equality as a social cause and they fail to understand the economic benefits for the company.
Set targets, track performance, share results, and hold leaders accountable.
The McKinsey survey showed that companies are applying gender-based analysis to hiring and retention, but few take corrective action when the results show low diversity. Leaders need to be held accountable for fostering gender diversity – and they should be rewarded when their efforts pay off.
Create formal sponsorship programs to help promote women to senior leadership roles.
All employees ranked sponsorship by a senior leader and political savviness as top criteria for advancement, but women appeared to have more struggles accessing sponsors.
Raise awareness of unconscious bias to create a truly inclusive environment.
Women comprise only one-quarter of senior leaders, but 80 percent of employees think their company is inclusive.
Although most companies offer flexible work options, many employees believe that taking advantage of a flexible work program hinders their career progress.
Women in STEM take advantage of flex-work programs (including parental leaves) at a higher rate than men do. Companies need to make using these programs compatible with promotion. This includes addressing the unconscious bias against them and improved re-integration support.