It’s amazing how fast an offhanded comment can spread on the internet. Indra Nooyi, the CEO of PepsiCo, found this out earlier this month. A comment about making ‘male and female Doritos’ because women apparently eat chips differently than men do went far and wide after an interview on January 31st, and social media went wild.
Do you seriously not know any ladies who like to lick that cheesy goodness off their fingers or knock back the bag to get the little broken bits at the bottom once all the chips are gone?
Fewer Lady Doritos, More Lady CEOs
Look at the CEO or the board of directors of your favorite company. How many of them are women? And how hard did you have to look to find them? We see it in the corporate sector, the political sector and nearly everywhere that men and women work together, unless you’re in a female-dominated field — women aren’t advancing to positions of leadership at the same rate that men are.
We’ve made some strides, to be sure — though it’s primarily in education — but in spite of the fact that women earn roughly 60% of undergraduate degrees and 60% of master’s degrees, we seem to be stuck. Let’s look at some statistics:
- Only 6 percent of CEOs in the US are women. That number drops to 4.6 percent for Fortune 500 companies.
- Only 20 percent of senior management positions are held by women.
- Only 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 board seats are held by women.
- Only 12 percent of executive office seats are held by women in the financial sector. None of them are CEOs.
- Women make up 78.4 percent of the labor force in healthcare and social assistance. Only 14.6 percent are executives and 12.4 percent hold a seat on the board. No CEOs here either.
Let’s be frank — there’s something wrong with a system where women can make up the majority of the labor force but don’t have the same opportunities to make it to the top.
Heads Up, Corporate America
If you’re a CEO at one of those offending companies reading this piece and wondering what you can do to stop being one of those depressing statistics, first listen. Listen to the women who are raising their voices and actually hear what they have to say.
Here are a few ideas for you to pore over:
1. We don’t need special accommodations. We’re just as capable of doing the same job as a man, and we deserve to be paid the same.
2. Paid parental leave. Seriously. Women might be the ones having the babies, but that doesn’t mean that dads or partners don’t need some time off to get used to having a new baby around — even if mom is the one getting up with the baby. Parental leave is just one suggestion — rethinking your benefits and incentives is a great idea.
3. Hire more women. Period. This is especially important for fields that are considered ‘male-dominated’ like programming.
4. Make sure you are providing opportunities for women to be leaders, public speakers and project managers at your company. People should be promoted based on merit — male or female. But in sectors that are heavily male-centric, it can be harder for women to find openings for advancement.
5. Discourage, vilify and absolutely damn sexual harassment — in both directions.
Take a look at your employee structure from the bottom up — from hiring up to your office as CEO. Figure out where you can make changes to better support the women on your staff and those that might join in the future.
Time to Come Together
None of us need pink power tools — unless you really like pink, and that’s entirely up to you. What we need is to come together and change… well… everything.
Celebrities and public figures are starting to come forward about how they’re making less than their male counterparts — and are demanding equal pay, even though it is costing them their jobs in some cases. And they tend to have a lot more clout than the average person, so just imagine what the average woman faces when she tries to call out discrimination.
We need to be the “nail-biting manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils” that the politicians are afraid of, if that’s what it takes to get them to listen.