I’ve experienced few moments prouder than when I called John Watson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Chevron Corporation, and A.G. Lafley, Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Procter & Gamble, to let them know their companies’ initiatives had won our prestigious Catalyst Award. These are very accomplished men, personally committed to creating workplaces where women and men have equal opportunities to advance—and winning our Award was a huge honor for them both. The initiatives created by their organizations serve as models for other top companies, showing what can be accomplished when leaders are unafraid to think differently, speak differently, and act differently.
Every year since 1987, Catalyst has honored initiatives designed to help advance women in the workplace. Since becoming President & CEO of Catalyst, I’ve often been approached by executives who want to know: how can my company win the Catalyst Award?
The short answer is that the Catalyst Award goes to programs that bust through barriers, transform obstacles into advantages, and have proven, measurable results.
The long answer is that deciding who we are going to honor is a rigorous, year-long process requiring hundreds of hours of labor and travel on the part of our staff and a serious commitment to verifying what applicants tell us about their organizations. Like most people who grew up dreaming of a career in politics, I appreciate a good speech. But at the end of the day, it’s evidence, not words, that counts.
Why are initiatives from Chevron and Procter & Gamble this year’s winners? Because their programs have gone beyond rhetoric. They aren’t window-dressing; they are central to the way these companies do business. Though they are from two very different industries, this year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives share a strong commitment to valuing and cultivating talent across organizations.
Chevron’s US-based initiative, The Chevron Way: Engineering Opportunities for Women, is designed to attract, retain, develop, and advance women throughout the company and, more broadly, to help increase Chevron’s focus on people, with the ultimate goal of strengthening the organization.
Everyone Valued, Everyone Included, Everyone Performing at Their Peak™ is Procter & Gamble’s global initiative and strategy to develop talent, with a focus on advancing women leaders across regions. P&G’s comprehensive talent management strategy includes strong leadership-development components, such as training, career development, and mentorship/sponsorship opportunities.
My best advice for those who aspire to win our Award is to challenge the status quo. Take a look around your boardroom and executive suites. If women’s faces are few and far between, don’t just ask why—commit to doing something about it. Never accept incremental change when profound change is possible.
I can’t guarantee that you’ll win an award. But I promise you will change the world.