I've met dozens of role models who are already leading inclusively and reaping the rewards for increasing diversity in their organizations. For example, this year's Catalyst award-winning initiatives from Chevron and Procter & Gamble are championed by CEOs who understand that with intentional action, profound change is possible. How can we capitalize on this growing momentum?
Push for real change. Time is up for "give it time." Even the most talented women won't rise to the top unless they have real chances to lead. We need leaders who set aggressive goals and hold themselves and others accountable for meeting them—not on a project-by-project basis but every day. Identifying and placing qualified women in senior roles should be "business as usual," not a twice-a-year token gesture.
Ask new questions. Instead of asking, "What can women do to get ahead at work?" ask "What are we doing to make it possible for women to succeed in this organization?" Persistent inequities are often blamed on women's choices and behaviors: they're not aggressive enough; they don't negotiate.
But the truth is, we don't need to fix women; we need to fix workplaces. Even when women and men start out with the same career aspirations, use the same strategies to get ahead and make similar choices, women still advance more slowly than men—and gender gaps appear early and widen over time.
Male MBAs are hired into higher-level positions right out of school and earn, on average, $4,600 more per year in their first job than their female counterparts. They also advance faster than women, in part because they're likelier to be given "hot jobs" with bigger budgets and more direct reports.
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