THE BLOG
11/18/2014 06:15 pm ET Updated Jan 18, 2015

In Fast Moving World, We Need to Speed Up on Gender Equality

As we march toward the chilly end of another year, the world as we know it is changing so fast that it's hard to keep up.

We now have planes that can take us to the edge of outer space -- though we've learned such feats come with risk.

We have new threats like Ebola and ISIS that few of us even knew about a year ago -- but we're now battling back with new treatments and new strategies.

We've just finished another election in which we invested hundreds of millions of dollars to try to affect change in Washington -- although we won't know if we've done better or worse for our country for months or years to come.

Throughout all of this change, we've also taken some steps toward improve gender equity in our businesses and organizations.

Women now hold a record 5.2 percent of CEO jobs at Fortune 500 companies.

When the next Congress opens in January, we'll have a record number of women -- 100 -- in the House and Senate.

We're inching closer toward reducing the gender gap in pay inequity between men and women.

All of these steps are good steps in the right direction, of course.

But let's be honestly clear here: They're baby steps. Embarrassingly small baby steps.

That percentage of women CEOs? That's up a whopping one percentage point from two years ago. That's just sad.

Those 100 members of Congress? Up from 99 in the previous Congress. As Politico puts it: "So what?" It's appalling that women still account for less than 19 percent of the Congress -- a Congress that's supposed to be representative of a population that happens to be 50 percent women.

And about closing that pay equity gap? We narrowed it by a miniscule 1 percent this year, according to the World Economic Forum. Women still earn only about two-thirds of what men earn for similar work. That's shameful for the United States, which ranks an embarrassing 65th in wage equality among the 142 countries tracked by the World Economic Forum.

In a world that's changing with dizzying speed, women's equality is still moving along at a glacial pace.

Real change requires bigger steps. More risk. More investment in programs to mentor, sponsor, train and keep good women in the workplace.

America needs a commitment to change, like we had with the Moon Shot program in the 1960s and like entrepreneurs are doing with commercial space travel today.

We need to fight back against gender inequality, like we do when our health or our security is threatened.

And as stakeholders in our corporations, we need to invest in gender equality like we invest in other areas, whether it's elections or product development or research and development.

We need to do these things not just because it's right, but because it's good for our companies, our economy and our society.

Diversity -- whether in society or in our corporate boardrooms -- means different voices are heard; different questions are asked and better solutions are developed. Better solutions means more value is contributed to the bottom line. And more diversity means a different and better culture throughout an organization -- which in turn makes that organization more adaptable to change, and therefore, stronger for the future.

From my experience in corporate America and from the experience of others, gender equality is worth it. More gender equality in the workplace means creating a better workplace for employees to invest their talents. It helps recruit top talent -- especially women. And it ultimately, it helps the bottom line.

With another year almost behind us and another up ahead, what will you do - beginning now - to make our world a better place for your women - perhaps a spouse, a daughter or a grand-daughter?

Just like any challenge, we can do it.

Won't you do your part to help... and begin NOW?