Work is a funny thing these days. For some, it is less of a priority than before the pandemic. For many, it’s a battle between the back-to-work types and those who prefer to stay away, or at least have the option. But for the most part, it’s a place that needs to provide so much more than a basic paycheck and benefits to keep people spending such a large part of their lives there.
So companies looking to maintain a high-performing and satisfied workforce are finding new ways to serve those who work for them, especially with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion.
And some do better than others.
In Parity.org’s recently released 2022 list of “Best Companies for Women to Advance,” only 43 companies made the list, and from fashion, only Ralph Lauren Corp. was among them.
The so-called ParityLIST, a nonprofit focused on closing the gender and race gap in corporate leadership, launched in 2020 to recognize organizations whose policies and benefits advance opportunity for women in the workplace rather than presenting barriers, as has long been the case.
“Parity in leadership is crucial, but we know that representation alone is not enough – we must create conditions intentionally designed to support women’s ambitions, well-being and freedoms”, Roseann Lynch, Director of Human Resources at Ralph Lauren and head of the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation, said in a statement.
In 2020, Ralph Lauren announced that it had already achieved its 2023 goal of equal representation of men and women at the level of its Vice President and above, confirming that women hold 50% of these positions in the company – a fact he has striven to maintain.
While more broadly, women make up 48% of the total workforce, according to Parity, the average leadership team is still 67% white male.
According to Parity, 88% of companies on the 2022 list regularly measure and report on gender equality measures, 86% communicate their gender equality values to employees, 98% offer flexible working hours and 95% encourage men to take full parental leave.
However, only 31% of companies have at least 50% women on their management team – although this number is up from 21% of companies on ParityLIST last year. Efforts seem to be going somewhat in the right direction, with 91% of companies requiring recruiters to include at least one qualified candidate for open leadership positions.
Airbnb, Best Buy, Nasdaq and The Clorox Company were among others on the list of best companies for women to advance.
Benefits were a big part of the ranking.
“There were so many standout benefits from the companies that made our ParityLIST, but a few in particular stood out in my mind,” Cathrin Stickney, founder and CEO of Parity.org, told WWD. “One company has made parental leave mandatory for anyone giving birth or adopting a child, and most employees receive their full salary during this time. This means that men will not get salary and promotional benefits compared to women who in the past took full parental leave out of necessity, only to have their male counterparts who become fathers take a few days off.
And, she added, “One company has established what it calls core working hours. Employees are all expected to work certain hours (depending on their time zone), but can complete their remaining hours. when it is most convenient for them.This allows flexibility, especially for women, to attend doctor’s appointments, drop their children off at school, or take on other care responsibilities.
Although there have been advancements in the way the modern workforce works for women, there is still a long way to go to achieve parity, especially since men are still being hired and promoted to top positions at much higher rates than women.
“It’s really frustrating that the pay equity needle hasn’t moved as fast as it should have now. The average woman still earns about 20% less than the average man — and it has been that way for about 15 years,” Stickney said, citing Pew Research. Since the launch of Parity.org in 2017, the amount a woman earns for every dollar earned by a man has increased by a mere half percent each year, reaching today 84 cents on the US dollar. man, she added.
And none of this has been helped by the pandemic’s impact on women in the workforce.
The National Women’s Law Center said in a report from March this year: “As men have returned to their pre-pandemic workforce size, more than 1.1 million fewer women are on the labor market today than in February 2020. As a result, many women — especially black women, Latinas, and other women of color — are still struggling to make ends meet.
So what should companies that have a long way to go on gender parity do now and in the future?
Stickney says it’s two things (the same two things many companies have been forced to realize they should be doing when it comes to racial representation): making public commitments and measuring their progress.
“More companies need to publicly commit to interviewing qualified women for every open leadership position,” she said. “Companies have made private commitments for decades with little results. A public engagement is different. This not only gives employees visibility into the importance the company places on diversity and equity, but enables company leaders and managers to hold the organization accountable to work proactively towards diversity. parity.
From there, it’s about recognition and responsibility.
“You can’t fix what you can’t see,” Stickney said. “Companies need to measure not just representation and pay equity, but the entire employee lifecycle, from recruitment to attrition, if they are to fully understand where the barriers and opportunities lie. When they start measuring, they’ll discover all kinds of previously unseen patterns. For example, do women leave the company at a higher rate than men during their first five years of employment? If the answer is “yes”, you have a problem.
“Or, if you’re recruiting more women than men at entry level and more men than women at management levels, you’re going to have a pipeline problem when you look to your high-potential employees to fill. senior positions and you can only find men,” she added. “You won’t even know you have these issues unless you measure and report the right things.”