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Minute With Mitch on KRLD-AM, hosted by Mitch Carr

“Women account for more than half of the U.S. population. There are more women than men in college and women now account for 47% of the total labor force. And yet at the leadership level there is a big gap. In Fortune 500 companies, women account for just 6.4% of CEO positions, for example. Sandra Beach Lin co-chairs the Paradigm for Parity, a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the corporate leader gender gap, and she spoke with KRLD’s Mitch Carr.”

Sandra: We started Paradigm for Parity, about two years ago because a group of about 50 women leaders- business leaders, CEO’s, board members, realized that after we had been in our careers about thirty years or so, really nothing had changed. And so, our determination was, “What practical tools can we put together to help solve the problem?” So the pipeline has been filled, and there are all different kinds of reasons why it’s been stalled. And the Paradigm for Parity was created so we can help solve this issue- and the Paradigm for Parity really is about getting this new norm in corporate America, one in which women and men have equal power, status and opportunity.

Mitch: Just a year out of college women earn on average about $7,000 less than men, and the other one shows that companies with 50% of women in the senior operating roles still have a 19% higher return on equity.

Sandra: And that’s what we try and get at with the 5 step action plan we have for Paradigm for Parity.

Mitch: Okay.

Sandra: For example, one of the reasons why the numbers haven’t moved, as you pointed out, is a lot of unconscious bias. There’s a lot of good people trying to do a lot of good things at the same time. We were all raised in certain ways, and there are corporate habits that occur. So one of the 5 steps is to minimize or eliminate unconscious bias, and this is through frequent training for really everybody in the company. And I sit on four corporate boards and I can tell you that the companies that have done this have had these gigantic “Aha!” moments because we all have biases, and that’s one of the reasons why the numbers haven’t moved and that’s one of the things we can do.

The other thing that we really ask our companies to do, of the 72 companies that have signed Paradigm for Parity is really take a look at your numbers, and look for the number of women that you have in operating roles. Not just the staff support roles but operating roles. And again the goal is to significantly increase the number of women in those operating roles and that’s one your way up to CFO, Chief Financial Officer, and then Chief Executive Officer. So there are many different things that companies can do and there’s measuring your targets at every level and then communicating your progress, we’re finding it is making a very big difference with the 72 companies that have signed on to Paradigm for Parity.

One of the things that you’ll find is when we promote people, sometimes, and actually in many cases we find that women are asked to stay in a job longer to prove themselves than men are. Once you start doing that, you start to lose years. And then of course that shows up in your comment, it shows up in your pay, you’ll lose the race to be equal in pay as you go along. So again what we’re saying is to measure these targets at every single level, and regularly communicate progress, and the results internally, and a lot of companies are starting to do this externally.

Mitch: What’s the website?

Sandra: The website is Paradigm4Parity, Paradigm, the number 4, parity, .com.

“And once again that is Sandra Beach Lin, the co-chair for Paradigm for Parity.”

About the Paradigm for Parity® Movement

The Paradigm for Parity® coalition is composed of CEOs, senior executives, founders, board members and business academics who are committed to achieving a new norm in corporate leadership: one in which women and men have equal power, status, and opportunity.

The coalition created the Paradigm for Parity® 5-Point Action Plan for corporations to accelerate the pace of gender equity in senior executive roles. 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. Visit www.paradigm4parity.com or follow us on Twitter using @p4parity to learn more about this exciting initiative.