Should We Really Be Celebrating?

3 min read | Kelly Primus

Today is International Women’s Day. I’ve been thinking about today and Women’s History Month for weeks in order to write this post. What words of wisdom would I be able to share with our colleagues, our clients and our followers?

Two words. Double Down.

Double Down is originally a term used in the card game blackjack, where a player doubles their original bet in exchange for exactly one additional card.

What I mean by it is: Renew your commitment to Gender Balance in your company’s leadership! I’m speaking directly to all of the executives out there who have signed one of the many “pledges” over the last few years stating they are committed to doing something to remove the barriers to women’s advancement in their organization. And then, generally, leaving it up to someone else to figure it out.

Here are some of the pledges I’m talking about:

Is signing a pledge really working? Let’s take a look. Today I'm focusing on
the Finance Industry, because they've recently begun publishing their data.

In 2016, 72 company executives signed the Women in Finance Charter.

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Since then, it’s been reported that the pay gap between women and men in the finance industry is obscene and very little has changed in the last 3 years.

Goldman Sachs reported: Women are paid 55.5% less than what men are paid in their international business and their bonus is 72.2% less.

Yet, the bank said “it is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of the firm.” It said it wanted women to make up half of its global workforce, starting with a target of 50 percent of its new analysts being women by 2021.

If you were a woman, would you want to work there?

But don’t think Goldman Sachs is the only one with this problem.

  • Barclay’s reported a 43.5% hourly pay gap with a 73% gap for bonuses
  • Citigroup reported their median pay for women is 29% less than it is for men
  • HSBC reported a whopping 59% pay gap
  • Virgin Money reported their hourly pay gap is 35%

And from my colleague across the Pacific, Michelle Redfern (@RedfernMichelle), she shared this information on Australian efforts:

"The Male Champions of Change was formed in 2010 and despite all the posturing and investment in their mission, they do not appear have made measurable impact to the status of women in leadership in Australia. Their intent is good, but I question their effectiveness on two fronts – what outcomes have been achieved (arguable) and the simple fact that the lion’s share of the work behind the scenes is done by women!"

Get the picture?

So, if signing pledges isn’t working, what really needs to happen? We’ve been saying for years that the organizations that are most successful at attaining their gender diversity goals do so because the CEO has made it one of their top business imperatives.

Sadly, yesterday I read a research report by Russell Reynolds that shared this info:
“Among all leaders surveyed, D&I came in last on a list of eight potential business priorities.”

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So, if you are one of the few CEOs who has made this one of your organization’s top business imperatives, we applaud you. If not, it’s time to double down and make sure you are truly committed to making gender diversity in leadership happen at your organization.

Want to know how to do this? Contact us.

Lead ON!
Kelly Lockwood Primus
President & COO

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