Making meaningful change in the gender challenge that exists across the board for companies takes careful thought and long-term commitment. Yesterday’s McKinsey Quarterly article offered three archetypes (unable to enter, stuck in the middle, and locked out of the top) that helps a great deal in pinpointing the pipeline problems in broad terms. When I was asked by the Board of Directors at EMC to design a program for our executive women in 2008, it was the first time I had built a program like this – and eight years on, our Fast Lane program is still chipping away at the issues women face being “stuck in the middle.” The women from the inaugural program cracked the code, and as you’ll see from my article in Diversity ExecutiveEMC has made great strides since then. I have helped companies across the most difficult sectors make discernible progress.

It’s interesting to note that the sectors suffering the most from “locked out of the top” variety of gender inequities are retail and consumer goods, media and telecom, and financial and professional services. McKinsey’s 2015 research collected from 30,000 employees at 118 North American companies across 9 industries shows that only 23% of women in these sectors feel that gender is a priority for their CEOs. Who is sponsoring and mentoring the senior high-potential women? Who is giving them feedback and helping them build the skills they need to be promoted?

The patterns McKinsey identified are enlightening because they create a focus for where to start on the initiative within your company. Jump-starting a program isn’t a panacea — We need strategic, long-term solutions that focus on making meaningful change so we can build momentum and measure the results over time. At the current rate of progress, McKinsey’s research revealed that we are a century away from gender parity in the C-Suite. How can we let this happen? If the basic social justice isn’t a priority, just look at the bottom-line value of women in executive roles. The numbers are there. As my article outlines, 17 best practices will make discernible progress. Don’t reinvent the wheel – the wisdom from companies across all sectors reveals this strategic issue can be solved. Contact us to join benchmark companies as they implement the 17 best practices.

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