Wake Up Call: "Fewer CEOs Are Women Than Are Named David"

Updated 05/05/19

The conversation about inequality in the workplace tends to pivot around the wage gap. And while compensation is definitely a huge part of the fight for equality, we should also spotlight another key issue: the staggering lack of diversity in the workplace, especially at higher levels. For example, as ClearCompany points out, did you know that "fewer CEOs are women than are named David"? The same is true for the name John, according to this report from The New York Times. And it's not just about gender.

Aside from the importance of equal opportunity for all races, genders, religions, and every other marker of identity, there's also the fact that "diverse teams outperform non-diverse ones by 35%." So while it might seem obvious that creating a workplace comprised of people from all backgrounds and walks of life is a fair, essential component of a thriving business, we clearly have a lot of work to do. The good news is that many women at the top are dedicated to the issue. 

We asked eight executives, CEOs, and entrepreneurs who will speak at Create & Cultivate this weekend to share what they're doing in their roles to achieve a more diverse, equal workplace, and how managers everywhere can and should do the same. Read on to hear what eight leaders are doing to create more diverse workplaces within major American corporations. 

Lizette Williams, Head of Cultural Engagement and Experiences at McDonald's U.S

McDonald's

"Until leaders can band together to commit to fostering a culture of gender diversity in the workplace, we will continue to see limitations in the impact women can truly have in advancing organizations. I believe we, as managers, have a collective and individual responsibility to develop, foster and sustain a culture of gender diversity in the workplace. Fostering this culture cuts across three key areas: 

Recruitment: We need to ensure that we have a balanced slate of talent when we are evaluating for open roles.

Retention: We need to keep women engaged in the workforce. This comes through flexibility in where and how employees are allowed to work.

Advancement: We also need to ensure that women are equipped to navigate the complexities of a workplace organization. This starts with creating the right opportunities to foster mentorship and sponsorship. It also involves giving female employees stretch projects that will allow for high visibility as well as ensuring equal access to learning and training programs."

Jenifer Dasho, Head of Consumer and Creator Marketing at Pinterest

Ryan Devisser

"When you have open roles, help source your own candidates. Go to the talent: Show up at events and partner with organizations focused on diverse backgrounds. Don't take a back seat, even when you have great recruiting partners. This becomes harder and harder as your team grows, but one of the best ways to ensure the diverse culture you want is to be on the front line."

Patrice Yursik, Creator of Afrobella.com

Steve Yursik

"Hiring diverse candidates across the spectrum is important, it's essential to a thriving modern business. Assess your staff and recognize the ways it may or may not reflect society. Reflect on the value of having multiple and unique perspectives, and make the intentional effort to expand your hiring pools."

Marci Grebstein, CMO at JCPenney

JCPenney

"It is important for managers and leaders to create an inclusive company culture by embracing diversity in all aspects of the business. Committing to an inclusive and diverse spirit fosters an environment of collaboration and respect, and at JCPenney, we're proud to have this type of culture derived from our Golden Rule roots to treat others as we wish to be treated."

Jaclyn Johnson, CEO and Founder of Create & Cultivate and Author of WorkParty

Caroline Lee of Woodnote Photography

"Be proactive. Set the precedent that inclusivity and diversity are core values of the workplace. Help educate your employees on inclusivity. Finally, celebrate and acknowledge other diverse workplaces. Inclusivity should be a non-negotiable for every company, and until it is, we need to point out the companies leading by example."

Blake Von D, Attorney and Influencer

Ali Stone

"I think people in hiring positions have to be very deliberate about making sure they are seeking out qualified and diverse employees. But beyond that, they have to ensure that they are fostering a workplace environment that encourages individuals to stay with the company and makes sure their unique perspectives are heard, valued and implemented."

Lori Wright, General Manager of Microsoft Office Collaboration Applications

Microsoft

"Create a working environment where women feel safe—and excited—to bring their whole selves to work. For example, I once worked with an amazing businesswoman who didn't put pictures of her children on her desk because she thought it made her look like less of a leader. If we openly talk about priorities outside of work, like a new baby or a hobby you enjoy, your team will think it's safe to as well. By doing this, we can create a world where fewer women opt out of the workplace because they don't feel supported to balance both work and life."

Lauren Gallo, Head of Entertainment Marketing at Snapchat

Justin Chung

"Keep decision-making diverse. When discussing important decisions, such as which new projects to take on or priorities for the quarter, gather a diverse group of employees. Diversity brings more innovative ideas that the others can elaborate on, creating a true team mentality. It sends the message that all employees are important, regardless of gender, and that they all have important roles in the company."

Related Stories