You might want to take a deep breath before you take this in:
- At the rate we’re going, it will take another 202 years for women to be paid as much as men, according to the World Economic Forum.
- The percent of women CEOs on the Fortune 500 list is still less than 7 percent—despite the fact that women represent 47 percent of the workforce.
- And, it’s all worse for women of color (despite last month’s report that the majority of Americans now entering the work force are people of color, primarily women).
Now for the good news! Research is revealing what works—and what doesn’t—in efforts to give all women a fair shot at career advancement; and Lori Nishiura Mackenzie of Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research knows what they are.
What not to do
- Don’t define success so narrowly that you look to replicate the exact same people you already have.
- Don’t believe your organization is already meritocratic and has equity and diversity handled. “If we believe we already are a meritocracy, and everything’s completely fair and equitable, we will do nothing to examine our systems.”
- Don’t believe, despite all the neuroscience to the contrary, you are objective.
- Don’t pretend you are gender-blind or race-blind. None of us are.
What to do
- Identify the precise criteria that it takes to succeed in your organization before considering someone for advancement. Anyone who says “I know it when I see it” is going to be biased, says Mackenzie. To reduce bias, become an expert at asking: “What’s the criteria we’re going to use for that decision?”
- Be very clear about the language you use. “Even if we say ‘I value diversity and inclusion, but I only want people from this one really awesome business school in Texas,’ I’ve just told people that I really don’t want everyone, I only want some ones,” Mackenzie says. Instead, use language that thoughtfully describes performance expectations that apply to anyone, regardless of gender, race, or age.
Mackenzie spoke at “How to Get Buy-in to Pioneer Equity and Diversity in Your Organization” at the 2018 Texas Conference for Women. She was joined by Carol Fulp, CEO, The Partnership and author, Success through Diversity; Wendy Howell, chief of staff and technical services product management, Cisco Systems; and Emily O’Halloran, managing director and Southwest digital lead, Accenture. Listen to the entire session here.