International Women's Day: How much progress has been made?

Although gender inequality still exists, women are working toward change

International Women's Day: How much progress has been made?

Despite heightened awareness around the importance – and widespread benefits – of gender equality at work, many organizations still don’t treat women fairly when it comes to promotions, access to leadership positions and, worst of all, having their voices heard.

Although a 2016 McKinsey & Co. study reported that more than 75% of CEOs list “gender equality” as one of their top 10 business priorities, women are less likely to receive a promotion or be on a path toward leadership. According to the study, U.S. companies promote 30% more men than women during their early career stages, and women in entry-level jobs are more likely to spend five or more years in the same role.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. Progress is being made and there are companies that treat people equally and serve as great role models for what can be. Ultimate Software is an example of a company that is passionate about gender equality in the workplace, and it ranked #1 on Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Women list in 2018. In fact, 50% of its employees are women, and 50% of them hold leadership roles.

Prior to joining the company, some of Ultimate Software’s women leaders experienced gender discrimination themselves. Here are a few examples they shared in a video for International Women’s Day:

“I was told in college that all I would ever be is a pretty face; I will never be enough to get where I am today.” – Reannah Gilenson, product marketing manager

“In one of my very first jobs, they told me that I was naïve, and I would not be successful; I’m certainly not selling anything.” – Pam Keefe, SVP of sales

“I was told women are too weak to be great leaders.” – Julie Dodd, chief services officer

“I was told that I should leave the programming to the boys, and I should probably move on to something easier.” – Jess Keeney, VP of engineering

“People often underestimate women, especially when they are pregnant, and people would tell me all the time that you cannot have a career and a family.” – Pragya Malhotra, director of product management

Discrimination against women is not only prevalent in the workplace – it is also evident in top-level sports. But Canadian professional golfer, Brooke Henderson, is determined to prove doubters wrong.

“Along every journey, there are always going to be naysayers – people who doubt your vision or ability. Honesty from others is always appreciated, but despite what they might say, or what they might think, you need to believe in yourself and dream big,” Henderson said. “Throughout my career, I’ve tried to use others’ negativity as motivation to prove them wrong.”

To help herself stay motivated and moving in the right direction, Henderson sets small goals along the way. She also focuses on three Fs: family, friends, and faith. According to Henderson, family had the biggest influence on her career – her mom as her biggest cheerleader, her dad as her favourite coach, and her sister as a huge role model.

To women who want to follow in her footsteps, Henderson gives this advice: “Have strong values. Persevere with a no-quit attitude when things get tough. Have integrity and always be true to yourself. Work hard while having fun along the way.”

Listen in as women leaders share their journeys to leadership roles in the upcoming webinar on March 19, Balance for Better: A Women in Leadership Panel.

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