A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (January 30, 2007) discusses award-winning corporate programs that expand leadership opportunities for women. Catalyst recognized Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo Inc., and PricewaterhouseCoopers and a few others for their efforts to increase women at the executive level.
For example, PepsiCo is big on mentoring. Senior female executives mentor women interested in leadership positions. Mentoring adds great intangible value to an organization and paves the way for others to lead. At PepsiCo the number of women of color increased from 72 to 144 since 2001 because of its nurturing environment. This is no small task since almost every company is trying to increase its diversity while the pool continues to remain small.
Other award-winning companies have implemented other elegant and practical ideas to encourage women to seek leadership positions. Scotia Bank regularly interviews female executives informaly before an audience of middle and lower level women managers. These interviews cover the gamut of questions from work-life balance to time management. Such simple yet meaningful programs have yielded dramatic results for the bank. Women executives have increased from 18.9% to 31% since 2003.
The bottom line is increasing the number of women and minorities in senior level positions does not require huge investments of money. Instead it requires commitment, dedication, and walking the walk. It is simple as that and challenging as that! Some corporations are clearly ahead of the pack and such companies will be the winners in the long run while others play catchup.