Saturday, October 16, 2010

The end of the conference...

...but the beginning of action steps.

We've heard about the gender gaps, we've seen the research, we know the business case, we've learned what other countries have done to close gender gaps. Now it is up to everyone to make sure that other people know about these gaps--and that we take concrete steps to close them.

What will you do?

Thank you so much to conference chairs Iris Bohnet, Laura Liswood and Saadia Zahidi. Thank you to the Women and Public Policy Program at HKS and to the Council of Women World Leaders staffs. It was a privilege to be a part of the program and to share my thoughts over the past two days. I hope that it was helpful--and more importantly, I hope that you feel galvanized to action.


  1. This has been very inspiring to follow. Thanks for your insight.

  2. As a man reading this blog, I would make one observation: there wasn’t much discussion about the role that men play in closing the gender gap. Not having attended the conference, I’m not sure to what extent this subject was addressed. Is it sexist or arrogant to suggest that this issue is a crucial issue that needs to be addressed if the gender gap is going to be closed? If the role of men was addressed in some detail, I be curious to hear what the panelists and participants thoughts were on the subject? If it wasn’t addressed, I would pose this question: what sort of concrete action should men be taking to close the gender gap?

  3. The conference presented research on and experience of increasing women's roles in business at executive and board levels. The facts show that adding women at CEO, exec levels and adding women to Fortune 500 Boards leads to improved performance in profits and valuation of companies. Outcomes of using quotas in Europe to increase women at these levels showed success. The US does not have quotas. 
We also looked at increasing the pipeline. There was discussion of the scrutiny of being a high level woman for every word out of her mouth, every decision made etc., typical for any person in minority in any group.
 Reseach was presented on how businesses do better with diversity and this includes with more women at the highest level. Yet we are not increasing women at higher levels by chance or nature. It happens in companies when they make the decision to make it happen such as Deloitte. It can be uncomfortable. The conference examined research that like groups: such as all men, all women, all one color, feel more comfortable but diverse groups produce superior results. Despite research showing that women adding value to companies in profits, research also shows that the public (men and women) have a hard time seeing women and financial success in the same sentence--- unless they have had previous exposure. This indicates we need to put women in these roles to see them and change this mindset.
    How to do this? 
Look for and promote women into leadership, CEO and Fortune 500 Board positions. Tell the stories we know of women and success to make known these facts and the achievements women have made. As shareholders, stakeholders, demand that more women be in exec positions, 
Demand that Fortune 500 Companies add women to their boards and increase the amount of women in leadership roles to greater than 30%.
In the US we do not have quotas.
    This change is not going to just happen in the US, we have to make it happen.
 Demand as a shareholder or stakeholders that women be represented on boards and at high levels in companies and government. We can make it happen and it will be a win win.

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