Women in Leadership: Company Action Items

Women in Leadership: Company Action Items

“We can and must do our part to help women rise…… It starts at the top

In Part One, I addressed seven ways women could climb faster in their careers. Today I’d like to share some encouraging news from one organization that is setting itself apart by recognizing high potential women and developing their skills to rise.

Lynne Doughtie, chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP, wrote this recently:

We can and must do our part to help women rise…… It starts at the top. To make a lasting impact, leaders need to drive change that requires getting surgical. We have to do more than tell women they need sponsors. We have to identify high-potential women by name and strategically map them to those who can help them get to the next level. We have to set goals, measure them and hold leaders accountable.”

You’ll note how specific this statement is. It’s written by a visionary, but one who also understands strategy and benchmarks. It offers a better future, but then tells exactly how to get to that future: identifying high potential women by name, setting goals, holding leaders accountable. It’s one thing to wish for a better future and even verbalize it. It’s another entirely to lay out a roadmap for achieving it.

Last week I reached out to KPMG and asked them to give me an update on the company’s progress in driving Chairman Doughtie’s strategies. Ichiro Kawasaki, director of corporate and digital communications, got right back to me with an impressive update. Unlike some firms that speak a vision, and then there is no follow through, this is not the case at KPMG. Management took the ball and ran with it, with stunning results.

Today, there are more than 65 KNOW (KPMG Network of Women) chapters in local KPMG offices across the country focused on mentoring and networking women. These efforts are bearing fruit.

Since 2003, KPMG’s female partners have increased significantly, rising 62%.

For fiscal year 2017, more than 43% of promotions into and within management positions were women.

To aggressively fill its future pipeline, KPMG is actively planting seeds with top female high school seniors. Their KPMG Future Leaders Program provides college scholarships, a leadership development retreat at Stanford University, a mentoring relationship with a woman business leader, and an introduction to golf. Condoleezza Rice serves as the program’s ambassador.

Next Steps

This is a call to action for all companies to fill their pipelines with talented women. Start now, and use KPMG Chairman Doughtie’s directives, and I  quote:

  • “Encourage mentors and sponsorships. Encourage women — indeed, all employees — to find mentors and sponsors to help them develop their skills and build their career paths. Mentors can help employees think about their career growth, while sponsors can actually help make it happen.
  • Provide a network of support. Advisory boards that enhance career opportunities for women and drive local and national initiatives that support, advance, retain and reward women make a difference. Activities focused on mentoring, networking, relationship building, leadership and skills development are essential.
  • Measure progress. Leaders can track and review various inclusion and diversity-specific key performance indicators, such as talent acquisition, attrition, career progression, and leadership and account team composition. This data can be used to help senior leaders and their direct reports set goals that will move the high-performing women they have identified by name forward.
  • Invest in the future. Millennials represent the most educated generation of women in history. Investing in and connecting with this generation of talented women requires an understanding of their values, communicating the company’s purpose and engaging them in the company’s social mission.
  • Don’t be shy about sharing successes. At KPMG, we are proud to be consistently recognized for our inclusive and diverse culture.”

If you have other stories about companies helping women rise, please share them with me. I’d love to hear them.


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