Executive Commentary
Gender Parity: How to Follow Through
Sarosh Mistry
Sarosh Mistry
Fortune 500 Chair at Sodexo North America, CEO Worldwide Homecare, Board Member

I have a daughter and not once during her young life have I thought she deserves less because of her gender. Not at home, in the classroom or on the playing field. The idea seems ludicrous.

But something happened as previous generations of daughters grew up and joined the workforce. In ways subtle and overt, they began being paid less than their male counterparts.

As we close out Women’s History Month, this is a phenomenon worth thinking about.

Today, women in the U.S. annually earn about $11,000 less than men. They represent about half of entry level professionals but less than a quarter of C-suite posts. In S&P 500 companies, female CEOs account for 5% of the list.

The persistent gap is undeniable. It continues in the face of copious research that  makes the business case for gender balance.

To those of us in the business world and, especially in positions of leadership, I say, let’s change it.

The first step is to commit to change. The second is to follow through.

For the follow-through, a resource worth a look is Paradigm for Parity. It’s a coalition of leaders from more than 100 major companies, including mine, who have pledged to close the pay gap among corporate leadership.

Clearly, gender pay disparity is not limited to leadership ranks. But “The movement toward true gender equality at every level of an organization starts at the top,” David G. Nord, Hubbell Inc. CEO said in signing the pledge.

Paradigm has set out five steps that can lead to progress:

  • Eliminate or minimize unconscious bias in the workplace;
  • Significantly increase the number of women in senior operating roles;
  • Measure targets and maintain accountability by providing regular progress reports;
  • Base career progress on business results and performance, rather than physical presence in the office;
  • Provide sponsors, not just mentors, to women well positioned for long term success.

Taking these steps will improve every workplace while, at the same time, getting us closer to true pay parity.

Many of us spent this last month honoring female leaders of the past.  We can continue celebrating them by clearing the path for female leaders of the future.

 

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