Why Recruiting Entry-Level Women Can’t Solve Your Gender Equity Problem

Half of entry-level roles are occupied by women — so why are only 22% of C-level roles filled by women?

one line man / Shutterstock
one line man / Shutterstock

Today close to half of entry-level roles are filled by women, but only 22% of C-level roles and a pitiful 5% of CEO roles in Fortune 500 companies are filled by women. If balance at the bottom gets us to only 5% at the very top, adding to the bottom isn’t the answer.

There is too much in the middle already causing major leaks in the pipeline. Until those issues are fixed, the stall-out and drop-out will persist. So where should you focus?

To have a big impact, you have to focus your efforts on enterprise-wide change that will also have a financial impact to the company. A direct correlation to bottom-line impact ensures leadership stays focused on change, because those results can be taken to the bank.

Here are the three key things to prioritize.

1) Ensure operational and cultural inclusion.

This comes out in how teams are built, how employees are evaluated and promoted, what networking support is provided, and how the policies and practices are lived out day-to-day.

If you increase parental leave and flex time but then penalize people for taking it, you’re not living out inclusive policies.

2) Create and maintain pay, leveling, and pipeline parity.

Make sure there is not only equal base pay for equal work across functions, divisions, and locations, but also that people with equivalent skills and potential are leveled and promoted equally, and that total comp, including bonus and soft benefits, are equal.

3) Develop ally coaching and sponsorship programs for women AND men.

This makes sure creating equity and equality in the workplace is everyone’s responsibility, regardless of which gender they identify with. Sponsorship in particular ensures everyone above entry-level has skin in the game to drive change through the development of the people more junior to them.

Should you still recruit entry-level women into your company? Absolutely. And if your balance of entry-level women and men is not 50/50, you should work hard to get to a more balanced entry point into the pipeline. In fact, the entry point at any level in your pipeline should have balance as a goal.

Just don’t assume that bringing women in at the bottom without making other important changes in inclusion will deliver any significant change to the status quo. The inclusion investment is where the big pay-off comes.

This article was originally published on Ellevate.

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