by Becky Heidesch

The Metrix . . What about the Numbers?

So, we started with the numbers years ago in looking at women and diversity at the top.  Fast forward a couple of generations and we are still talking about the numbers.  In some cases, the metrics have gotten better, but overall there is minimal results to show for the tremendous efforts made by many individuals and organizations over the years to address business and cultural biases.

Now, its 2018 and we’ve aggressively moved into unconscious bias training.  We are now spending millions of dollars to address these biases.  According to Huet, the diversity training industry has climbed to $8 billion a year and there are a dozen new startups selling all kinds of new and cutting-edge technology solutions to address diversity hires and to provide less bias in the hiring process.  High powered VC’s have poured more than $50 million into this software solutions sector, as a starting point, says Huett.

New technologies and companies have attacked this design to take the biases out of hiring and address diversity, include Glassbreakers, Jopwell, Textio, Unitive, Blendoor and Glasshammer, just to name a few.  Will these new software solutions solve our diversity hiring challenges?   I’m not so sure.  While eliminating biases is significant, and important and needed, it may not matter if company leadership and cultures do not change.  Should we be more focused on leadership training and accountability?  After all, aren’t our best leaders’ inclusive leaders?

Equal Pay

This past year, the U.S. government charged that Google was systematically paying women less than their male counterparts.  According to industry report at the time, the Department of Labor charged that Google had systemic compensation disparities against women for the most part, across the entire workforce at Google.  A claim Google fervently denied.

According to Google’s own diversity data, women had made up 24 percent of leadership throughout the company. Ethnic diversity was also miserable, with leadership being 70 percent white, 25 percent Asian, 2 percent Black, 2 percent two or more races, 1 percent Hispanic and less than 1 percent “other.”

As the arguments continue, what is the impact these findings and conversations will have on pay equity.  Hopefully, we are another step closer.  What’s interesting is the fact Google is not an old company. With many young leaders, and in some cases leaders who grew up in a more culturally diverse world then previous generations, we would think these types of companies would be more likely to post better numbers in both diversity and equal pay for women.  This is especially interesting in Silicon Valley, home of one of the most diverse populations in the country.  I get and understand the shortage of women and people of color in tech, but overall how did this disparity slip through another generation and in large companies who have so much public exposure?

In the 80’s a female family member was pegged to be the CFO for one of the fastest growing companies in the Inc. 500.  She and 3 male colleagues were the founders.  I can remember one summer when I was working at the company helping her with some odd projects, one of which was to shred some of the accounting department papers and pay stubs.  Well of course I noticed how much money this female family member was making in comparison to her 3 male partners.  While I brought it up for discussion, she expressed that she made less because she was told her position as the CFO was easier to replace then the other C-suite roles her male colleagues had.  Hmm . . I have heard that in my career since and perhaps there is truth to that, but what was more impactful to me was the fact that she was okay with being paid significantly less.  Maybe the comps were in line with skill set and experience and that can always be argued.  But the internal picture was that she was okay with the numbers and just grateful to be part of the team.  She would have never dreamt of standing up for herself and asking for more money or equal pay.  Times are a changin. . . Women and men are speaking up!

As we know through research, when women ask for more money or a promotion, it is viewed internally by organizations differently than when men ask.  It is expected of men.  It is still not expected of women.  When men get the extra pay or promotion, they are even given a big pat on the back and congratulated by their colleagues.  Women can and often are treated very differently.  This is a cultural difference in our society.  It takes culturally diverse and inclusive leaders to understand this dynamic and advocate for women and equal pay.  Male leaders are in a great position to lead this movement.

Progressive and culturally intelligent CEO’s like Blake Irving when he was at Go Daddy, and other conscientious C-suite leaders have helped raise the bar for women and pay.  Those leaders, often white males, are the real game changers here.  Real change happens when new inclusive leaders are brought in. The commitment has to come from the top! 

I’ve read and heard countless stories over the years of women who feel they have been passed up for promotions in favor of a white male who is part of the good old boy club.  While research shows that women do pass up promotions moreso then men for various reasons, for example, as primary caretakers of families they may be less inclined to relocate, or research indicates they may lack the confidence in aggressively going after the role against their male colleagues.  That being said, they are still often times getting the short end of the stick.

A successful woman in business that I know was passed over for a promotion to the position she had been managing for the past two years.  Her track record of performance was proven and she was well liked.  When it came time for the hiring committee to decide on one of the three finalists, she was not selected.  It turns out that one of the board members was so headstrong about hiring his buddy in the role that he overpowered the rest of the committee, in an almost a bully type fashion, he was able to get his buddy in the role.

If the room is dominated by men and the good old boys are in charge, then do women really have an equal chance to be seen and heard?  To all the wonderful white males I know and love, sorry guys, this may not be about you.  It is 2018 and this is an old story line and women are rightfully upset.

In 2015, research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. produced some disturbing findings about women’s prospects for advancement in the workplace.  According to Shana Lebowitz, though women and men say they want to be promoted in about equal numbers (75% and 78% respectively), women are significantly less likely to make it to the next tier in their organization.  Lebowitz noted that across all organizational levels, the study found that women are a massive 15% less likely than men to get promoted.

Some researchers indicate that, at this rate,
it will take more than a century to achieve gender parity in the C-suite.

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