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Urged by female leaders including Ellen Kullman, former chairman and chief executive officer of Dupont Inc, and Jewelle Bickford, partner at Evercore Wealth Management, the CEOs joined a program called Paradigm for Parity that prescribes five steps for advancing women.
It will be a tough climb. Women currently compose 14 percent of the top five executive positions at each of the S&P 500 companies, and just 20 of the CEO jobs, or 4 percent. They’re advancing so slowly that parity could take more than a century at current rates, according to a 2015 study by McKinsey & Co and LeanIn.org. McKinsey Global Managing Partner Dominic Barton signed the Paradigm for Parity pledge.
“What’s frustrating is that, to date, there has been so little progress," Bickford said in a conference call announcing the initiative. Many organizations support women in business, but there’s a disconnect between what companies say and actually placing women in top positions, she said. “We concluded nothing would change unless there was an actionable roadmap.”
The coalition laid out steps for senior managers: address unconscious bias; base advancement on performance rather than time in the office; promote women into operating roles with responsibility for profit and loss; set targets and communicate them; and actively sponsor promising female leaders. The group suggests aiming for 30 percent women in management within the next five years.
Anne Drake, chairman and CEO of supply chain management firm DSC Logistics, said on the call that measuring and publishing metrics will be essential to meeting the goals. "The numbers tell the story," she said, adding that the company will publish data twice a year.
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