Close your eyes and picture the world’s corporate boardrooms and C-suites.
It’s hard not to see a group of middle-aged white men in business suits and red or blue ties. While there is no shortage of educated, talented, and well-qualified women in the entry- and mid-level ranks of businesses around the world, very few of them make it to the top. The number of women in senior leadership globally just doesn’t match up with the vast pool of women who are ready and able to lead.
But we know change can happen when organizations stop talking about the challenges of advancing women to leadership and instead take intentional, targeted steps to break down barriers in their own workplaces as well as beyond their companies’ walls.
This year’s Catalyst Award-winning initiatives from Kimberly-Clark and Lockheed Martin are doing just that. We’ll be honoring these initiatives at today’s annual Catalyst Awards Conference & Dinner—my first as President and CEO—and I couldn’t be prouder.
Though our Award-winning initiatives come from companies in two very different industries, they share the same priorities. They are not only committed to making the advancement of women part of their own corporate cultures, but they are also extending that commitment outside of their companies by reaching out to girls and young women in their communities to cultivate future leaders.
Just take a look at what these companies are achieving both internally and externally.
Kimberly-Clark’s Unleash Your Power: Strengthening the Business With Women Leaders is a global, enterprise-wide initiative which highlights the important role women play in the workplace and marketplace. It focuses on increasing women’s representation at all levels by hiring and promoting more women into critical roles globally, strengthening the pipeline of women, and nurturing regional and business action plans to accelerate the recruitment, development, and retention of women. Outside the company, it empowers women and girls through community outreach and corporate social responsibility activities.
Lockheed Martin’s U.S.-based Women Accelerating Tomorrow initiative supports women’s advancement as part of a broad strategic effort to retain diverse talent in a highly technical and engineering-focused industry. It focuses on engaging male leaders to drive change and building a diverse and sustainable STEM pipeline through a variety of educational and recruiting efforts—many of which are intended to expand access to STEM education and job opportunities for women. In addition, it connects its employees with students from kindergarten through college so that they can serve as role models and mentors who inspire girls and boys alike to consider careers in STEM fields.
Companies like Kimberly-Clark and Lockheed Martin know that change isn’t coming someday—it’s already here. They show that capitalizing on women’s talents internally and externally is not just the smart thing to do—it’s the right thing to do.
And doing the right thing starts with promising to take a closer look at why there are so few women at the top of your organization—and coming up with solutions.
Simply by making room at the table for one or more talented women in your company or on your team, you personally have the power to change workplaces—and lives.
Just think how much the global picture could change if organizations around the world began following your lead.