This may come as a huge surprise to you but white males dominate the upper levels of management. Recently, in the Wall Street Journal, Carol Hymowitz wrote about the lack of diversity—only 15 percent of corporate-officer jobs are held by women. The news on pay disparity between men and women will not cheer you up, either. According to Hymowitz, women still only make 77 percent of what men are paid. It has been forty years since gender discrimination was outlawed in the workplace. Where did the time go?
Rather than throw our hands up and head for the couch with a giant bucket of bonbons, women can see this as a opportunity. If the Wall Street Journal finds this topic to be newsworthy after all these years, then employers clearly are looking at ways to improve these statistics.
As the pool of highly qualified talent shrinks with boomers retiring, women need to be first in line to offer their talents. By asking for work (that’s right—you just come right out and ask!) that fits the lives of busy women, we offer an (sadly) often overlooked option for employers. It takes time to change the collective thinking, but how else do make meaningful change? It’s one job at a time. Women need to first offer their considerable talents and experience, then ask for a work situation that does not conflict (too harshly) with their lives outside the office.
While the disparity between men and women in the workplace has not narrowed as much as we would like, employers can no longer pretend that it does not exist. Many Fortune 500 companies like American Express, IBM and Ernst and Young are developing programs to keep women engaged after they decide to take time off to raise a family.
They want us back, so let’s not waste another forty years!