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#BeEqual to Stand Out

By Victor Aimi, APR posted 04-08-2020 11:38 AM


Did you hear? Last January, Goldman Sachs said they will no longer help companies go public unless they have at least one “diverse” board member. 

CEO David Solomon explained it:

  1. They run the numbers on companies going public over the last four years.
  2. Companies with at least one female director have better numbers.

At the PRSA Technology Section we agree!

On our first monthly webinar of 2020 last January, Bevin Maguire of IBM shared the numbers behind a recent IBM study on women in leadership that aligns with their #BeEqual, their gender diversity pledge (Bevin is VP of Clients, Industry and Global Markets at IBM Corporate Communications).

She calls her numbers “the paradox:”

  1. Companies with female leaders report faster growth and higher profits than their peers.
  2. Only 18% of 2,300 companies in their research have female leaders.

That number is even lower in the technology industry. In tech, taking the pledge to #BeEqual is an even bigger opportunity to stand out. Just saying it won’t make it happen, though. For example, 65% of men on the report say that their pay would be the same if they were women.

If it were that easy, Goldman would not be setting diversity as an investment condition and formal business priority and requirement.

In her presentation, Bevin laid out a roadmap IBM extracted from that 18% of companies who successfully make gender diversity in leadership happen in their organizations:

  1. Make gender equity a formal business priority
  2. Drive accountability, because “only what’s measured gets done”
  3. Co-create goals (vs. mandating them) with a baseline, a pipeline, a timeline, and actual share goals for female leaders
  4. Fight unconscious bias by focusing on trouble spots, automating recruiting, and demanding female candidates
  5. Work on culture. For example, advocate for female sponsorship instead of just mentorship, offer flexible hours, and expect men to also focus on their families  

Bevin said that that the biggest takeaway for us in technology is that it takes equality in leadership to reap the business benefits of diversity.

Closer to home, she noted that the communications profession is heavily female, but among senior leadership roles are where our gap lies.

Tech Section members can watch a recording of the webinar on our community page. People outside our Section can always read IBM’s report.