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New Non-Profit Empowers Employees to Confront their Companies about Gender Inequality

Website offers free tools, scripts and online community

Submitted by: Lynnette Mcintire

Posted: May 04, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Series: Human Rights: A Rainbow of Challenges

Tags: equality, women, leadership

 
Lynnette_mcintire

This is the most recent article in our series on Human Rights & Equality. For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/82-human-rights-a-rainbow-of-challenges/posts

In March, The New York Times ran a column declaring that "Fewer Women Run Big Companies Than Men named John." The article cited a Glass Ceiling Index that showed that Jims, Bobs, Jacks and Bills combined outnumber the total number of women among chief executives of S&P 1500 firms. A woeful sign that women still lag in leadership roles in corporate America. But go deeper down the corporate ladder and the story is even worse. In the U.S. women hold more than 50% of management, professional and related positions, yet women hold only 22% of senior leadership positions in U.S. businesses.. They hold 19% of board seats and less than 5% of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies.

Those less-than-inspiring statistics frustrated one young woman, Elba Pareja-Gallagher, so much that she decided to create a non-profit to attack the problem at the grassroots - ShowMe50TM. The name is tied to her goal to get employees within companies to challenge their employers to "show me 50% in senior leadership positions."  The organization's website Showme50.org, which features tools and an online community, launches March 31.  The organization shows employees how to benchmark the current equality ratio of their companies against the ShowMe50 goal of 50%, paving a  way to shake companies out of complacency. The site also has recommendations about how to drive change all the way up to the board of directors level.

"We will help individuals -men and women-learn and present the business case for gender balanced leadership. We will inspire them to ask their companies to change the cultures, policies and practices that are roadblocks to equality," Pareja-Gallagher said.

 Pareja-Gallagher cites four main reasons why women lag in the executive suite, even in companies that have active diversity programs:

  • Individual Belief and Unconscious Behavior. Implicit bias can govern behavior even when it conflicts with stated goals and values.

  • Internal Culture. Exclusionary norms can exist that undermine equality. Things like who is invited to meetings, whose ideas are listened to, who is engaged in conversations.

  • Policy and Procedure.  Too often mechanisms aren't in place to ensure equality. Are there policies to ensure fairness and stop retaliation if issues are raised?

  • Access to Resources. What resources are devoted to gender equality. How many women (and men) leaders are in place to champion women's interests and talents?

ShowMe50's website has ready-made presentations, checklists and talking points to help employees raise the questions about why women aren't being promoted. At the heart of the approach are the business benefits, said Pareja-Gallagher. "We believe that these practices lead to higher employee satisfaction and productivity, lower turnover and greater innovation - creating greater returns for shareholders, " she said. 

This is the most recent article in our series on Human Rights & Equality. For more articles, go to http://www.csrwire.com/blog/series/82-human-rights-a-rainbow-of-challenges/posts


The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by CSRwire contributors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of CSRwire.

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