The gender tipping point

November 11, 2015

The gender tipping point

In our recent study on gender equality in the executive ranks, we posited that gender balance would become a prime driver of reputation in the years to come. I would say we are on the cusp on that happening soon. The report provides reasons why that is the case and I urge you to read it.

But one of our more interesting questions we asked of male and female executives was what they saw as the tipping point that will ultimately trigger gender quality at the C-level. The findings were fascinating.

For male executives, the number one tipping point was external pressure from stakeholders such as board members, shareholders, vendors, partners, job applicants, clients and consumers. In other words, pressure from the outside. This finding made me think back about to about nine years ago when we pitched a super large electronics company and one of their first questions they asked us was whether the decks we brought to the meeting were printed on recyclable paper. Luckily, it was but we were not prepared for that as the first question and it was certainly not standard operating procedure at that point in time. Today of course it is. I expect that something like that is going to begin to happen when it comes to gender balance. Procurement officers, clients and the like are going to prefer to work with teams that are diverse and firms that are gender-balanced. The male executives we surveyed were being honest when they admitted the importance of forces outside of their control impacting their hiring of women at the top. As the research also found, gender equality at the top was not a priority and in fact ranked 7th out of 10 priorities we gave them.

For female executives, the number one tipping point to reaching gender equality was laws to ensure equal pay for equal work. This surprised me because it was clearly significant as the silver bullet that surpassed all others. What this really says is that women do not think gender balance in the executive ranks is going to happen unless it is legislated and becomes the law of the land. The pipeline is full with talented women and it’s just not happening unless legal protection for equal pay is mandated. I’d say that women have run out of patience.

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Leslie Gaines-Ross
Leslie Gaines-Ross
lesliegainesross@gmail.com

As Weber Shandwick’s Chief Reputation Strategist, I focus on the ever changing world of reputation. For the past 25 years, I have relentlessly observed, researched and commented on the rise and fall of reputations.

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