Coming out of tech and data, I’m a numbers person; always have been. Lately, there are two numbers that I can’t get out of my head–99 and 208. It’s only been 99 years since women got the right to vote in the U.S. Think about that…. The number 208 tells us how far we still need to go. According to the World Economic Forum that’s the number of years it will take to achieve gender equality. Alarming, and not the kind of numbers game any of us should play. As Melinda Gates says: equality can’t wait. It can’t. We all need to take action.
Closing the gender gap is a complex and layered problem. I went back to the numbers and conducted extensive consumer research to see how I could plug in and help. The research showed that working women were short on time and long on ambition. They were stuck and didn’t know how to advance themselves. In fact, they didn’t even know where to begin. I experienced the impact of executive coaching and knew that companies provide it but reserved it for a small percentage of employees. This is where I could help – I wanted to create a way for more women to get access to coaching and experts. I wanted to help women access these resources and provide them with a new and innovative way to learn. I wanted to get to them earlier in their careers. This is what I could do.
There is no silver bullet, and I believe that building a pipeline of strong female leaders is one way to chip away at the problem. Accelerating the growth of that pipeline is perhaps even more important. For women to rise through the ranks and gain the recognition and compensation they deserve, it will take time and money and a real commitment from employers and employees. It will also take courage. It takes courage to do more than just think about it. It takes courage to have the uncomfortable conversations. It takes courage for corporations to take the long view.
It took courage for me to launch my own company; and I know that providing access to learning and leadership development is only one way to get to gender parity faster. I’m asking you to have the courage to do something today. Do something that will help women advance. I don’t want to wait for equality. Do you?