Though women make up over 40 percent of the labor force in countries like the U.S., Canada and Japan, research shows that female workers still earn less and are less likely to advance to leadership roles. More companies now recognize the need to provide resources for women, and some are coming up with innovative solutions for supporting their female employees. These benefits are allowing companies to be more successful since women can bring a different perspective to a problem and can help come up with creative ways to solve it—and, of course, help with recruitment and retainment. Here are just a few companies leading the pack.
Earlier this month, Nestlé laid out a plan to get more women into executive positions. Among many changes, the global food giant pledged to eliminate conditions that create gender wage gaps, enhance mentoring programs to prepare women for managerial positions, and encourage the use of the company’s paid parental leave and flexible work policies.
More than 90 percent of IBM’s female employees participate in mentoring programs, reports Working Mother magazine. The global technology employer of 366,000 people worldwide is also paving the way in terms of helping aspiring mothers build families while maintaining their careers.
For example, the company reimburses full-time employees for fertility services including in vitro fertilization, egg freezing and surrogacy. This allows women to advance their careers and not have to give up their goals of having children.
The company also provides support groups for working parents and caregivers. Often times, women are responsible for taking care of aging relatives and other family members, with women spending roughly twice as much time on care and other unpaid household activities than men, according to the World Economic Forum. Support groups such as this allow women to know that they are not alone and offer them a chance to learn from others who have been there.
Last year, Starbucks achieved 100 percent pay equity between men, women and minorities. The company publicly shared the principles and tools it used to reach this goal in hopes that other employers will join in working toward pay equity, Lucy Helm, chief partner officer at Starbucks, said in a public statement.
Achieving equal pay would add approximately $512 billion worth of income to the U.S. economy, according to the Women’s Institute for Policy Research. Unsurprisingly, companies that are transparent about their wages also have a better time recruiting top talent. Though Starbucks was in the news last year over an incident at one of their stores in Philadelphia that many called racial profiling, this pay equity milestone is something that can help the company bounce back from the negative light that was put on them.
Professional services firm Accenture is working to achieve a 50-50 gender-balanced workforce by 2025. Already, women represent 43 percent of the company’s global workforce of nearly 500,000. At the management level, 30 percent of company leaders and 40 percent of external board members are women, dwarfing other major corporations.
To achieve gender balance in its workforce, Accenture is leaning on time-honored programs like mentoring and employee resource groups (ERGs), along with more modern management structures like flex scheduling. All Accenture employees can set their start and finish times, work remotely, or work more hours over fewer days.
The company also works with organizations like the Network of Executive Women (NEW) to advance women’s equality in the workplace. "When I'm talking to my peers, what they recognize is they can't do it with the same leaders," Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture North America, told CNN. "Diversity, I think, has become a real business imperative at the very top with CEOs who are facing massive disruption.”
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