In 2017, Parity.org—a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that companies close the gender gap on leadership levels—launched its ParityPledge™, which asked organizations to make a commitment to gender equality by interviewing at least one female candidate for every open executive position. Like the NFL’s Rooney Rule, the ParityPledge seeks to increase the recruitment of qualified female talent in C-Suite and board positions, thus giving women a seat at the table that they have not necessarily been able to occupy at many organizations.
In a statement released by Parity.org, the organization’s founder and CEO Cathrin Stickney explained the importance of the ParityPledge this way: “While women represent 51 percent of the population—barely 20 percent of S&P 500 corporate executive teams and boards are represented by women. The ParityPledge is simply a public commitment that any company, regardless of where they are in their journey, can sign up for and implement. And it’s a proven approach.”
Since its inception, numerous companies in the energy, technology, retail, health, materials, finance, telecommunication services, nonprofit, and industrials sectors have made their own public commitments to gender parity by signing the pledge. Among these organizations are Adobe, Cisco, Best Buy, United Way of Salt Lake, and Lyft.
Similarly, Parity.org created the ParityPledge® in Support of People of Color in 2020—designed to increase representation in corporate leadership—which was signed by companies like Henry Ford Health, Ralph Lauren, Ancestry, and Overstock.com.
“People of color, particularly women of color, face many roadblocks and obstacles to success in business. Black, Latinx, Native Americans, and other communities are deeply impacted by the lack of equal representation in positions of leadership and authority,” said Stickney when this pledge was announced. “I hope that by bringing this pledge to the forefront, more companies will be open to changing how they recruit and hire underrepresented groups.”
How Can Parity Be Achieved?
Signing the ParityPledge, or making your own public statement, is a great first step toward letting the community know that your organization is open to diversity, equity, and inclusion. But what does that actually mean in practice? After you’ve interviewed, hired, and onboarded untapped talent, you have to have an environment that sustains your efforts and retains these workers.
In a blueprint of how to achieve this entitled “The Parity Model”, Parity.org outlines the following eight practices that companies can use in order to make parity sustainable so underrepresented talent can thrive:
1. Public commitment
Although making a private commitment to increasing diversity in an organization is important, making that public pledge increases accountability from internal and external sources. This can encourage companies to be more intentional about these goals.
2. KPI accountability
Parity.org suggests that organizations include racial and gender parity in key performance indicators, or KPIs, in every department. Also, tying performance reviews and bonuses to how well these KPIs have been achieved can go a long way toward holding leaders in each department accountable for diversity goals.
3. Anti-bias training
This is a key step toward creating a culture of inclusion and helping new talent feel more comfortable. Requiring anti-bias training allows everyone in an organization to become educated about issues related to bias, harassment, and microaggressions, and ensure that everyone is in agreement about what types of behavior are appropriate in their workplace.
Parity.org notes that measuring results is the only way that companies can gauge how they are doing with their diversity goals. The organization suggests measuring representation, pay, recruitment, and attrition on a long-term basis.
5. Family-friendly benefits
Men and women alike are concerned about work-life balance, so creating family-friendly benefits will help all workers feel more valued. Parity.org suggests benefits like remote work, flexible work hours, private nursing rooms, childcare, and family leave.
6. Senior role models
Parity.org points out the importance of senior staff in an organization leading by example. If the CEO and board of a company do not take diversity seriously, it’s going to be impossible for the rest of the organization to do so. Diversity efforts must start from the top and trickle down because they’re not going to work the other way around.
7. Feedback loop
Employee resource groups (ERGs) are a great way for people from diverse groups to have a sounding board for their concerns. Parity.org says that companies should think of these groups as focus groups that can help them improve their work environment. Another way to encourage feedback is through employee surveys, where people can anonymously share their experiences and concerns.
After getting this feedback from employees, Parity.org suggests that organizations use the information they gained in order to shape their internal and external communications about diversity. Sharing their successes can help shape views of the organization among employees, customers, and suppliers—thus creating a narrative about why the organization is great to work for or do business with.
Taking a parity pledge is a great start toward creating an organizational culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion, but making your work environment more welcoming for everyone is what’s going to make a long-lasting difference. These tips from Parity.org can help you form this culture as you work in tandem toward achieving your diversity recruitment goals.