De Marco says companies need to ask themselves why it's important to have women not only as employees, but in leadership positions. And once they understand how beneficial diversity is to their business, then they have to ask how they're treating the women they hire.
"Ask yourself, 'Is the work that I'm asking this woman to do, is it compelling? Is it satisfying? What is the compensation like? Is it on par with what the men are getting?'" says De Marco. If the answer is "no," then she says women are more likely to leave. And in the case of a woman who is just starting a family, she says that female employee may decide to leave the workforce altogether if the work is not fulfilling and if the pay does not provide enough cushion for daycare.
Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Ernst & Young's Global Vice Chair for Public Policy and Global Sponsor for Diversity and Inclusiveness, says providing women with the right amount of flexibility is also critical for closing the wealth gap and keeping women in the workforce. She says managers need to create a work environment where "women feel completely safe to manage their personal and professional responsibilities." Rather than focusing on input, Brooke-Marciniak says company leaders need to focus on output and "let women do their jobs in the way they want to do them."
Aside from hiring women, promoting women and providing flexibility, De Marco adds that companies need to do a better job of providing women with sponsorship support, so they can advance.
"The way men advance in their careers is they have sponsors," she explains. "They have someone to open the door for them, someone who will make a way for them. Historically, men have found that in the workplace and women haven't."
She emphasizes that in order to provide this support, company leaders need to invite women to more networking events outside the office. "This means, allowing women to attend a seminar or inviting women to lunches and dinners that men normally only get invited to," she says.
In addition to companies doing their part, De Marco says women also need to recognize their role when it comes to being advocates for themselves at work. To prepare for career advancement, she says women should take at least one personal finance course in college so they are armed with knowledge on how to budget, invest and negotiate. If personal finance isn't offered at their school, or if they've already graduated, she says women can educate themselves with books like "Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In" by Roger Fisher and William Ury, or "A Woman's Guide to Successful Negotiating," by Lee Miller and Jessica Miller.
"These are strategies women can own and be in control of," says De Marco. "We can say corporate America can do x, y and z, but who wants to wait and put their faith in an organization while they play catch up."
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