If you look around your workplace and industry, you might notice that women are still largely underrepresented. Women are missing from leadership positions, event panels, and professions like engineering, even as research shows that diversity in leadership builds better business.
Meet four women who have created initiatives that are helping close the gender inequality gap:
Maria Castañón Moats leads a team of diversity leaders to help focus and drive opportunities for women in leadership through areas like mentorship. PricewaterhouseCoopers runs a program called Aspire to Lead, the company’s first global forum on women and leadership, as well as a development program for top-performing women senior managers and directors. Castañón Moats saw an opportunity to lead in this role as a first-generation Mexican-American and the first person in her family to attend college. Her team is making great progress: on average 50 per cent of the company’s new hires are women.
Sandi MacPherson, Founder, Quibb
Sandi MacPherson introduced the 50/50 Pledge earlier this year to work towards equal representation of women and men at technology conferences. She’s encouraging women to add their names to a directory of speakers to help conference organisers connect with relevant female experts. Until now, conference organisers have found it difficult to secure women speakers. Her initiative is progressing—more than 1,000 names have been collected representing roles from software engineer to chief marketing officer at companies like Google, Facebook, and Pinterest. MacPherson’s pledge is an important development in a highly visible area where women have an opportunity to lead.
Tracy Chou, Software Engineer, Pinterest
Tracy Chou is a young and influential voice for advancing gender equality in engineering. Chou’s leadership in diversity started two years ago when she uploaded a spreadsheet to Github, a code-sharing platform, to encourage companies to publicly list the number of female engineers in their ranks. She knew the number of women engineers was low and wanted the industry to be more transparent about the gap.
Chou openly discusses where the industry can improve, and she’s a great resource and support for fellow women in technology through channels like Twitter. Pinterest Co-founder Evan Sharp recently recognized Chou’s early efforts in an announcement that the company will be increasing hiring rates for full-time engineering roles to 30 per cent female.
Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO
Vicki Saunders is a Canadian entrepreneur advocating for a better model to support women in business. Saunders spent most of her life being the only woman on panels at tech conferences and one of the few women seeking venture funding. She’s calling for an act of “radical generosity” that will support, finance, and celebrate women with the launch of SheEO; an invitation to 1,000 women to contribute $1,000 to support finance and celebrate-women led ventures. Each contributor will help select 10 ventures, with a goal of one venture succeeding. Saunders’ initiative could be a good experiment in inclusivity by inviting men to support the movement.
Gender equality can only be realized as companies evolve their diversity programs; as more men in leadership positions stamp their support of such changes; and as women become increasingly vocal about their workplace challenges to help other women succeed.
If you liked this article, read Why Companies Need to Rethink the Approach to Diversity.