As Women’s History Month comes to an end, two of the Paradigm for Parity® coalition founders shared how their experiences in the corporate world inspired them to take matters into their own hands and lead the charge to help companies create diverse and inclusive workforces.

The Paradigm for Parity® coalition was created by 50 women business leaders – including CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members, and business academics – who are committed to achieving a new norm in the corporate world: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity. The group knew that nothing would change unless women who already held senior positions developed a solution for all women.

Barbara Perlmutter, a former Senior Vice President of Public Affairs for Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC), Inc., said: “As a young business school student, I wrote a thesis on women in the workplace and I concluded that women did not have the same pathway for future success as men and therefore must demand and work for equal opportunities and advancement. At MMC, I worked my way up to becoming the Chief Communications Officer of the parent company and the only woman in a senior executive position. I didn’t have women leaders to look up to or to learn from, which is why, after retirement, I was motivated to join with women business executives to create the Paradigm for Parity® coalition. Our mission is to ensure that women in the workplace have support within their organizations and opportunities to advance and reach leadership levels.”  

Julie Fasone Holder, a former Senior Vice President of Dow Chemical Company, said: “Creating a corporate culture where everyone can flourish has been a priority throughout my career. As someone who was often the first woman to step into each role as my career progressed from entry level to the C-suite at Dow, I’ve seen firsthand how important it is for a company to have a proactive strategy to retain and promote women. I’m proud to have joined with fellow women executives to create the Paradigm for Parity® coalition to leverage our experiences to provide companies and executives the tools and support they need to create diverse and inclusive workplaces so future generations of women have the same opportunity for success as men.”  

The coalition created the Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan for corporations to accelerate the pace of gender equity in senior executive roles. The plan was created by women who personally overcame barriers in the corporate world and were committed to paving the way for all women to succeed. This unique agenda defines bold and specific actions that, taken together and simultaneously implemented as a package, will catalyze change and enable today’s business executives to secure the best leaders of tomorrow.

The five points are:

  • Eliminating or minimizing unconscious bias in the workplace;

  • Significantly increasing the number of women in senior operating roles;

  • Measuring targets and maintaining accountability by providing regular progress reports;

  • Basing career progress on business results and performance, rather than physical presence in the office; and

  • Providing sponsors, not just mentors, to women well positioned for long term success.

Today, the Paradigm for Parity® coalition boasts 103 companies that are committed to leveling the playing field for women in their workplace. Together, the coalition companies employ more than 5.4 million workers worldwide from a diverse range of 28 industries, including technology, health care, food service, retail and financial services.