Bain & Company partner Julie Coffman discusses the HR initiatives that have helped close the long-standing gender gap among executives in the firm.
While Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg made headlines as newly appointed executives of multinational organisations, the fact remains that only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women.
As a result, Bain & Company has undertaken several successful initiatives to help bridge this gap in leadership. One of its first undertakings was implementing options for flexible work arrangements, which allow employees to maintain a robust professional life while still fulfilling personal obligations such as caring for family and traveling.
“I’m just as likely to leave my office at 3:30pm to go to one of my kid’s baseball games, get on a conference call at 5pm while I’m driving back, and then do email from 9-10:30pm to make up for whatever I missed,” said partner Julie Coffman.
Coffman, a mother of three, understands the demands that can be placed on women outside the workplace. Where she feels many companies go wrong, though, is in assuming women want “soft-pedalled” assignments as a result. On the contrary, women should be reminded why they fell in love with the job in the first place, and given complex work to feel energized again.
Also, Bain is a proponent of promoting staff by way of a career lattice. Instead of viewing career paths as a mutually exclusive choice between climbing to senior ranks or falling off the career trajectory, it allows employees to exercise different roles and move in a latitudinal direction. These options include: