guest post by Kathlene Mullens
The Glass Ceiling isn't a woman's problem. It's an everyone problem. Women are filling over half of jobs these days, more and more households are headed by women, still more are co-led by women, and all children are born to women (with many having fathers involved as well). This makes the not-improving reality of the gender-based wage gap a problem for every child ever born in this country as fewer dollars in mom's pocket are fewer dollars for the child and the rest of the family, whatever form that family takes.
That's a pretty profound problem.
Many laws and regulations fill the books demanding that groups like Federal contractors- who do billions of dollars of work for the United States Government each year- achieve gender parity in advancement, pay, hiring and subcontracting. After being in place for decades, these rules have had ample runway to be implemented and are still far from where they should be. These firms can figure out massively challenging problems like "how can we build a smart bomb" but simple things like "how can we advance the women in our workforce and pay them fairly" seem elude some of them. Laws are not getting us where we need to be, nor are regulatory bodies. Lawsuits are giving some one-off victories here and there. Even the Federal Government has been unable to achieve a state in which women have parity in pay and percentage of leadership roles. Given the failures of so many efforts in this space, I fully support leaving these measures in place and working to enhance their effectiveness but recognize that there has to be a better way.
In this particular space, I'm going to have to agree with the Tea Party- big government isn't getting it done. That means it's up to consumers, which is actually great news as consumers are more powerful than any political party.
Consumer spending moves mountains- and moves them with seemingly effortless grace and speed. From new "green" formulas to "apple fresh scent", if there is a large consumer base for a product, it will become reality.
So here's our big idea: direct consumer spending to companies, non-profits, and institutions of higher learning that have proven that they value women at the top by actually having at least 20% of top seats filled by women by using a certification and a simple brand logo around which to rally the troops. Sort of a "Good Housekeeping Seal" for the Glass Ceiling. We are The "No Glass Ceiling" Brand/Certification © and it is called Female Equality Matters ® (FEM). Look for the logo when you shop/donate/choose higher ed to "vote with your dollars" for organizations that have proven they value women at top. It's simple. It's transparent. It does not require you to write a check or show up at a rally. Just do what you're doing now but, when making a selection, choose the organization that have proven they support women at the top.
"Name and shame" is not our choice of tactic - the (24 karat) carrots of consumer spending are more powerful than the sticks of shame. We know that women and the men who support us will help us prove this out. We know that organizations want to do the right things by women and hire/promote the best and pay them fairly. FEM will help them achieve these goals with our consulting and training.
Will it work? Absolutely. Our research shows that consumers would pick a FEM Certified product/service over similar one 36% of the time at a similar price point. Perhaps even more exciting is that they would choose the FEM Certified product/service - even if it was at a higher price point- over others 34% of the time. To any marketer, driving 70% more consumer decisions your way is a delicious dream. Even 7% would make you a rock star genius. We're looking to partner with the bold first product/service interested in enjoying these benefits and are putting together bold new tools to further the reach of our brand. We're certifying more organizations by the day so check out our website to see who's already there and if your organization would like to be FEM Certified, let us know and we'd be happy to evaluate it.
How does Female Equality Matters® help women? By empowering women (and men) at all levels of the economic spectrum who care about the glass ceiling to use simple consumer activism to help get more women to the top. By proving that the consumer cares about the issue and are willing to drive purchases towards those who are doing it right. By driving companies to develop and place women into the top spots at companies. By having more female voices in power. By giving women more decision power at the top. By having more women in those top c-suite income brackets (who can then support more non-profits and female candidates, we hope). By showing us that "leaders" are often women. It helps. It matters.
Female Equality Matters ® is The "No Glass Ceiling" Brand/Certification ©
Kathlene Mullens, MLHR, SPHR, BSBA is the founder and CEO of Female Equality Matters®, The "No Glass Ceiling" Certification/Brand©. With over a decade of HR experience in four Fortune 100 companies, Ms. Mullens is using that expertise in diversity, OFCCP, EEO, recruiting, HR, employee development, and technology to help leverage the power of consumer spending to yield more women, with more equitable pay, in the C-suite and board rooms of companies, non-profits, and colleges/universities around the world.