Closing The Gap

Microsoft, Adobe and Mattel among 40 companies pledging to make workplace changes to help women succeed

Allie Kline, CMO of Oath and Head of MAKERS
Bloomberg / Contributor | Getty Images
Allie Kline, CMO of Oath and Head of MAKERS

At the annual MAKERS Conference in Los Angeles this morning, more than 40 business leaders took to the stage to pledge to make changes to help women in the workplace.

As part of the culmination of the three-day conference, which was called #RaiseYourVoice and focused on issues of equal pay, representation and sexual harassment, the organization unveiled a list of historic pledges across a range of companies. The goal, says Allie Kline, CMO of Oath and the head of MAKERS, is for these pledges to inspire other organizations around the world to make changes to advance women in their workforces.

MAKERS is a feminist media brand backed by Verizon's Oath, which hosts more than 4,500 original interviews and more than 400 Makers Interviews. It also has a partnership program for companies, called MAKERS@, which aims to give companies tools and inspiration for their employees.

The companies announcing pledges range from Adobe and Aetna to Microsoft, Unilever and Univision. The pledges are all unique to their brands, such as Barbie-maker Mattel pledging to launch at least 10 role model dolls each year featuring under-represented careers, "real life Sheroes from around the world, and important women in history."

National Geographic Global Networks CEO Courteney Monroe pledged that by the end of 2020 the number of male- and female-led companies her organization partners with, from marketing agencies to production houses, will be equal.

"We're going to create a high bar for ourselves and hope that it inspires companies to set a high bar for themselves, so that they can work with us."

Monroe says this isn't just the right thing to do to help women; it will give National Geographic a competitive advantage.

"We need to reflect the consumers we serve, and the only way we're going to do that is if the leadership team and the company itself reflects that diversity. And diversity of thought is what drives results," says Monroe. "The world is incredibly competitive right now. If you have a leadership team that looks the same, we're going to get stuck in the same places. The only way you're going to be able to power that and get better results is to be a diverse and inclusive company."

"Diversity of thought is what drives results." -Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Global Networks

In the tech industry, which has been under scrutiny for a pervasive under-representation of women, Adobe says it will reach pay parity between men and women globally this year. IT-services company Cognizant pledges to "help close the gender gap in tech by getting more girls into STEM and by equipping 12,000 Cognizant women across North America in 2018 with the critical digital skills needed to advance at all stages of their careers."

A number of pledges are focused on how women are represented. L'Oreal's SVP of Strategic Investments and Creative Solutions Nadine McHugh says she is committed to using the buying power of the company's media investments to accurately portray women. Meanwhile, Accenture announced a commitment to end gender bias and cultural stereotypes in marketing and advertising.

"The goal is to eliminate it in everything we do and produce at Accenture, and to work with our external peers and colleagues to do the same," said Accenture's Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Roxanne Taylor.

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