Two Men and Two Women Sitting Together, In a Work Environment

5 Ways Top Companies Are Closing The Gender Gap


Elevate Network
By Allison Matejczyk

In a recent Ellevate Network survey of more than 1,000 professional women, 47% of respondents said they are somewhat satisfied with how their company handles diversity and inclusion, while 20% of the respondents said they are not satisfied. Women said they are “tired of hearing about diversity in powerpoint presentations over a potluck lunch,” and want to “start seeing real change,” with more women in senior leadership positions, more of a cultural shift in how we do business, and less “checking the box.”

Although there is an abundance of research proving how great diversity is for business and for the economy, there are still many companies struggling to get it right. So who is leading the charge and what can we learn from them? We asked Ellevate’s Corporate Champions about what’s working in their organizations. Here are five ways they are closing the gender achievement and pay gaps:

Offer Workplace Flexibility Without Shame

Advancements in technology and innovation are changing the way we work and do business for the better, and whether we like it or not, most people are connected to their job 24/7. 36% of Ellevate members say they want to find more work/life balance in 2016 and 40% believe the most valuable perk an employer can offer is flexibility. As Sallie Krawcheck, Chair of Ellevate, has said, “to make meaningful progress, smart companies will build cultures and career paths that go beyond today’s flexibility approaches: they will enable true flexibility without shame.” Ellevate Network partner Accenture is doing just that:

We offer a range of flexible work arrangements to help our people achieve work/life balance, while meeting the demands of our business. Our fly-back program, smart work initiative and client-site flexible work arrangements help address the challenges that come with business travel commitments. We also provide innovative communication and collaboration tools to help increase productivity, efficiency and flexibility.

Be Transparent About Pay

Ellevate recently recognized Equal Pay Day, which highlights the discouraging fact that the average full-time working woman still earns just $0.79 for every dollar a man earns. 55% of Ellevate Members say equal pay and the gender achievement gap are the most important issues regarding women. 15% say the number one action needed to close the gender pay gap is to work with companies to promote diversity internally and create more transparent salary reporting. One Ellevate member received a TWO level promotion and a 30% increase in pay after she asked her company to review her compensation as compared to her peers (all male). Accenture added:

We strive to ensure that all our people are paid fairly and equitably from the moment we hire them through the milestones of their careers here. We have rigorous processes in place to identify discrepancies. Our philosophy is simple: if we find a problem we fix it –for both our women and our men.

Companies like Fairygodboss are also making it easier for women to get the inside scoop on pay at their companies compared to pay for women in similar roles.

Invest in Your Leaders of Tomorrow

Mid-career professional women are starting to feel like the middle child. There is a lot of focus on Millenials and women in the c-suite, but what about the leaders of tomorrow seeking the more senior positions? Companies can get more women into senior leadership positions and grow their pipeline by offering sponsorship programsunconscious bias trainingengaging senior management, and working with companies such as iRelaunch that specialize in returning to work. Ellevate Corporate Partner Booz Allen Hamilton said:

Our commitment to women’s careers begin at recruitment and extends to a variety of innovative programs to retain and develop them including career mobility options, individual and group mentoring, and a culture that values diverse viewpoints and experience. After retirements later in 2016, the composition of our senior leadership team will be an equal number of women and men, demonstrating this commitment from the top down.

Give Women Access to External Networks

36% of Ellevate members say the #1 most impactful thing we can do to close the gender achievement gap is to provide women with the network and resources they need to get ahead. In 2013, the Harvard Business Reviewfound that the lack of access to informal networks, especially those networks that can provide important information, is one of the primary barriers to the advancement of women. We learned from our survey that almost 50% of the companies our members work for do not have recognized women’s groups. Giving women a community they can learn from, and lean on, gives them the opportunity to step out of their comfort zone which increases the likelihood of taking risks and boosts engagement at work. In addition to partnering with Ellevate, Brown Brothers Harriman said:

We have several programs geared towards the advancement of women including formal mentorship in certain lines of business and Lean-In Circles in many of our offices around the world.

Build Diversity into Your Core Values

Having a diverse workforce is not a nice to do, it’s a right to do. 39% of Ellevate members believe that engaging senior leadership works best to improve diversity. It’s up to executive management and senior leaders to build diversity into their organization’s core values. In order to be truly competitive, a company must treat diversity as an asset and create a culture that accepts all employees, embraces individuality and encourages networking and life-long learning. Paul Hastings LLP, said it best:

Diversity is much more than a policy or statement —it is who we are and how we do business. A diverse and inclusive environment is an integral part of our firm’s culture and business growth. And it is our commitment to this core value today that helps drive the success of our clients and our firm. To us, it’s just smart business.

Toss the old diversity and inclusion playbook — there’s a new set of rules. Download the e-book from Sallie Krawcheck here.