How to spark change from the inside.
In order to develop an organization it is not enough to work with just one department or one group. A classical and common mistake in the past was to send “middle managers” to a leadership program and hope that it would lead to changes within the entire company. Today we know that we have to work with the whole
entity in order to achieve development. And it has to start at the top with targeted programs working throughout the organization—level by level—with training, seminars and projects.
However, it is possible to start
with one department in order to create a “role model” for the rest of the company.
Your department or business unit could be the “pilot project.” A successful result will lead the way and make other units willing to follow. But, along with this, it is important to work with internal marketing and conduct seminars within the entire
company. Gender equality has to be on top of the company agenda in order to make things happen. It is one thing to talk about changes, but a totally different thing to make them happen by taking action.
The steps below describe a full program to foster gender equality. Of course, it is possible to make a choice among the points simply because it is better to start with something then to do nothing. However, points one and two are crucial and are impossible to ignore, as well as the question about salaries.
1. Start from the Top
Hold a top management conference. Include definitions of equal opportunities for your company, presentation of the steps below and statements from the CEO.
2. The Project Team
Team should be as “top heavy” as possible—the CEO should participate. A ten year project may be appropriate—equality work is a never-ending story. Set long term and short term goals. Spark a culture shift: Democratic identities, ethics and morals. Explicitly link it to company mission and vision.
3. Basic Work
Conduct a questionnaire—survey the company as a whole. Focus on gender and diversity, gather company-wide statistics on women, men, and their roles. Salary: are there differences between the sexes that are “hard to explain” regarding doing the same job and having the same position?
What should we do? Where are we going with this in the long- and short-terms? Inject realism: Who should do it? I’d say, “everybody”— it’s not just an Human Resources question.
5. Measurable goals
There needs to be something to measure, not just statistics, but also development on every level regarding positions.
6. Internal marketing
Changes come from within—you need ambassadors. And you need to provide information, live, on site. E-mail and video conferences are a secondary step.
Host working conferences and open seminars. Start with the Management Team, then roll out to all employees.
Start small projects on each level within the company. Make visible changes on how you talk, recruit, behave, and treat each other.
Start mentorship programs, create women’s networks, and invite female managers from other companies to share their experiences.
10. External marketing
Tell the “world” outside your company that diversity is a key issue for you! Deploy media and advertising. Highlight the role models in your company.
Institute a plan regarding the hiring of women. Go for competence, not gender.
12. Evaluation and report
Require reporting every month and quarter.
As I wrote above, there are no shortcuts and in order to put all the steps above in place, you need to get going. Today!