Do you work for a company where the CEO and other executives say they support gender equality but little else happens to make it a reality?
I’ve worked at several places where that’s true and guess other women might have, too. Places where saying anything about the say/do gap is political and career suicide.
Since being proactive puts paychecks at risk at places like that, perhaps you can shine a light on the situation by leaving the following letter someplace where your CEO might read it…and be inspired to act positively.
Here’s to progress and ending the need for anonymity!
Dear Mr. CEO,
I see you stride through the lobby most mornings, but I doubt you see me. Why do I doubt it? I’m just a minion who works on the 24th floor.
But I’m a minion with big dreams.
One of those dreams is having a job like yours someday. While I like what our company does, I know I’ll never have that opportunity here. Why do I believe that?
Because I’m a woman working in an organization that isn’t women-friendly.
Having read that, I imagine you sitting straight up in your chair, slapping your desk, and loudly declaring, “That’s BS. All our managers go through diversity training. We have a Women’s Network, for crying out loud; and special leadership training for our women, too. And, the percent of women working here has doubled since I became CEO. This company is very woman-friendly.”
Sir, all those statements are true, but they don’t make our company woman-friendly. The facts you stated are just an exercise in numbers. Numbers or activities that sound good when reports are due to the EEOC or when you have to make a speech to regulators.
But numbers don’t speak to the reality of what women who work here face. Sure, no one pats us on the bottom or makes dumb blonde jokes in staff meetings (any more).
Working here is kinda like living at the zoo. Each species is kept in its own special area. There’s no mingling or sharing, and the lions are the main attraction. And you are the king of the lions, and there are no lionesses to be seen anywhere near you.
Going to diversity training is like putting a token on the start square of a Monopoly game, and then the game ends. The impact of diversity training comes from the power of inclusiveness—putting a rich variety of perspectives into play. That doesn’t happen here.
Having a woman’s network and leadership training just for women is practicing separation of states. No ideas generated there ever go mainstream because there’s no women above the manager level to hear them.
Yes, there have been increases in the number of female employees working here since you were hired, but those hard-working women hold staff or admin positions and don’t get to make the power decisions. Other than assistants, count the number of women who work on your floor or the floor below. There aren’t any.
I know you’re a man who likes his numbers. Research (Women in the Executive Suite Correlate to High Profits by Roy Adler) showed that companies with high numbers of women executives outperformed their industry median by 34% on the measure of profits as a percent of revenue.
Can you imagine what performance like that (or even half of it, just to be conservative) would do for our company’s stock price? For your reputation?
But I ask, no—beg, you not to consider promoting women just for the sake of higher revenue and profits. Those are just numbers.
Do it for all the right reasons. Do it because creating a gender-balanced team that practices gender-neutral leadership is the kind of place where you’d like to see your beloved grand-daughter work someday. Now that’s a legacy.
With high hopes for a more women-friendly future,
A minion who wants to help you really “get” it