The call for a 50/50 gender equal workplace is getting louder. Groups such as Let's Make the Industry 50/50 Initiative highlight the wealth of qualified women in senior positions and is encourage the same in industries across the board (see their video below). This group and others are bringing the conversation into the open, into the boardrooms, and into conferences across the country.
That said, a 2014 Washington Post piece predicted women could achieve this 50/50 milestone by 2042. I'll most likely be dead then, or darn close, and would certainly like to see it happen just a tad faster - for that reason and many others.
Here are 7 things I think women can start doing right now to reach 50/50 parity sooner:
1. Reach out to women you know and offer to help.
Call someone different every day and ask - how are you, what are you working on, and how can I help? Then, follow through (in a timely manner) with what you offered to do.
"I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt...it was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the '50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him - and it was true, due to Marilyn's superstar status - that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman - a little ahead of her times. And she didn't know it." - Ella Fitzgerald
2. Put women together who can help each other.
Stand back and see what happens - without expecting anything in return.
3. Mentor someone and have a mentor.
Offer to mentor, then really do it. And, if you can set up a formal program in your company, do so. Many are afraid to ask for the help or don't know where to start.
"The principles of mentorship improve communication and change the workplace culture so that organizations are more productive and staff willingly use every opportunity to grow, develop, and cause breakthroughs." - Susan Bender Phelps, Odyssey Mentoring
4. Do not gossip.
Don't judge and don't complain. The universe listens to every word you say.
5. Sing the praises of others.
Spotlight good people - even competitors. Share and praise their accomplishments.
6. Be kind and be gracious.
7. Encourage 100% participation.
This is not 'woman's work" - this will take all of us on board to make this happen. Do these things for men as well as women and encourage men to get on board with the initiative. Explain it's not a competition. In fact, we will all become more successful as a result.
"It is possible to achieve our 50/50 objectives if more people are willing to stand up and demand action now. Both women and men have the power to decide which organizations they support--from events and associations, to award shows and corporations--but they need to dig deeper to determine which are acting responsibly and ensuring equal representation. If not, it's incumbent upon all of us to support organizations that are making those efforts. We need to take a collective stance to create change." - Mandy Gilbert, founder and CEO CreativeNiche.com and committee member of Let's Make the Industry 50/50 Initiative
To truly reach 50/50 equality in the word place, in the "C" suite, in the boardroom, in management, in salary - we are going to have to work together ladies and gentlemen. We are going to have to do these 7 things like never before.
There is an old saying, "Women hold up half the sky." We should be holding up half of the corporate world as well.
Get to work. Make International Women's Day actually mean something.
Dayna Steele is often called The Daily Success Expert. Her simple yet 'ridiculously sane' advice is shared daily on YourDailySuccessTip.com. She is the author of Rock to the Top: What I Learned about Success from the World's Greatest Rock Stars and the 101 Ways to Rock Your World book series as well as a rock radio Hall of Famer. Follow her on Twitter @daynasteele.