3 Companies Launching Programs to Advance Working Women

Here are some innovative equal opportunity initiatives that we think are worth replicating.

Companies are beginning to notice the value in equipping employees with the resources they need to excel in their industries, and that the best way to do that is to offer compelling programs and initiatives to help drive that success.

The 50 companies on Fortune’s second annual “Change the World” list are doing just that.

The lineup, published last week, was compiled based on three criterion: programs with measurable social impact, the business/financial results from the programs and the degree of innovation the programs carry.

These three companies particularly stood out to us for offering unique initiatives aimed at working women not just in the U.S., but worldwide.


3.3 InHerSight Score| More ratings

This company boasts a longtime reputation for promoting gender inclusiveness and diversity.

Its high scores on InHerSight reflect this. The company has 3.9/5 star ratings in both categories of “management opportunities for women” and “equal opportunities for men and women.”

Gap’s Women and Opportunity strategy launched in 2007 to advance gender inclusion, including components like recruitment and talent development programs, flexible working arrangements and a Diversity and Inclusion Council to ensure the strategy’s success.

And it has so far. Between 2007 and 2015, women’s representation at Gap increased from 44 to 49.7 percent at the vice president level (globally), from 33 to 77 percent for senior leadership levels and, between 2010 and 2015, women working on the company’s board of directors increased from 10 to 36 percent.

An essential part of the strategy (and the one praised in Fortune’s list) is a program called P.A.C.E., or Personal Advancement and Career Enhancement. Its weekly course curriculum provides life skills, education and technical training for female supply chain workers.

Learning opportunities like those offered through P.A.C.E. are important to women. Seventy-three percent of the over 15,000 women in an InHerSight survey say access to these opportunities is a top benefit they want from employers.

Maybe that’s why Catalyst reports that more than 30,000 women have participated in the P.A.C.E. program since 2007.

Gap’s program is currently expanding to other regions, in stride to reach a one million women by 2020.

The Coca-Cola Company

3.2 InHerSight Score| More ratings

Coca-Cola is committed to offering programs and tools to help women succeed personally and professionally, as shown through its above average 3.2/5 star rating for learning opportunities on InHerSight.

In 2010, Coca-Cola launched a program with a goal to help five million women entrepreneurs succeed in their businesses, all within 10 years.

#5by20 connects local government organizations and multinational NGOs, like UNWomen and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to market-specific resource programs.

The program addresses the barriers women face when striving for success in the marketplace. Coca-Cola states that it “offers women access to business skills, training courses, financial services and connections with peers or mentors, along with the confidence that comes with building a successful business.”

So far, the program has reached 1.2 million women across 60 countries, Fortune reports. It especially saw success in 2015 and reached over 372,000 women, a 43 percent increase from the previous year.


3.5 InHerSight Score| More ratings

This tech giant conducted an assessment of 17,000 global employees last year and found that 6.6 percent needed salary adjustments to more accurately reflect the work they contribute. Salesforce spent $3 million to close this gap, a move that impacted some male workers as well.

The company has earned a 3.5/5 star rating on InHerSight for salary satisfaction, higher in comparison to scores for other enterprise software companies like Oracle (2.1/5 stars), IBM (3.0/5 stars) and even Intel Corporation (3.4/5 stars), which made headlines in 2015 for closing its gender pay gap.

Of course, fair and equal pay is of great importance to women. According to InHerSight data, 89 percent of women say that salary satisfaction is a factor they want most from their employers.

Additionally, Salesforce launched a leadership initiative that Fortune says helps women “rise through the ranks.” The company announced that the “High-Potential Leadership Program” led to a 33 percent increase in the number of women promoted in 2015.

Salesforce also recently increased parental leave to 12 weeks off at 80 percent of total pay, including base and bonuses, along with a new program to offer new parents the flexibility to work reduced hours (at full pay) for the first four consecutive weeks of returning to work.

Does your company have an awesome program for women you’d like to tell us about? Your insights are a powerful tool for working women. Share them now.

A version of this was first posted on

10 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Retain Your Employees

Hands down, the most important investment you could possibly have in your company is your employees. Are you investing a large percentage in hiring the right employees? Do you have a winning team? If so, employee retention should be your top priority. Here are 10 surprisingly easy ways to achieve it.

  1. Develop an employee retention strategy
    Don’t leave this to the last minute, or go into it unprepared. You’ll be flying blind. The best way to approach this is with your eyes open, with a plan. Narrow down all the variables when it comes to your company and specifically what your employees need to thrive. Keeping all of these factors in mind will better help you figure out how to approach the situation.
  2. Keep things in perspective
    It’s easy to give in to the mindset that new technology is what will benefit your business most, but what good is that technology without valuable players who really know what they are doing? Having top-notch people on your team is key. Did you know that according to recent studies you can spend up to 21 percent of an employee’s annual salary replacing him or her? The morale of one or two unhappy employees can affect the morale and work performance of the entire company.
  3. Be a good listener
    It’s important to be receptive to your employees. Communicate with them about their needs, and foster an open dialogue about their careers, their objectives, and what is going on with the company. A successful business is fueled by communication, and ignoring your employees could cost you your company.
  4. Value your employees
    Since a company is as good as the sum of its parts, understand how important it is to invest in your company through finding the best people for your team. Once you have them, you have to put emphasis on the importance of cultivating this relationship. Unhappy, dissatisfied employees leads to a high turnover rate, which is bad news for your company. Value them, and they will value you and your company.
  5. Give credit where it is due
    Make sure to pay attention to outstanding work performance and dedication, as well as rewarding it accordingly. This leads to a healthy work ethic and professional relationship with your employees. When they are rewarded for their outstanding performance, they will feel valued. Happy employees equals a productive company.
  6. Foster a good work environment
    There’s nothing worse than dreading going into work because of an imbalanced environment. This can be aggravated by excess stress, pressure, as well as improper distribution of work and resources. Who says work can’t be fun, productive and rewarding? Foster a positive, driven, happy environment, and it will go a long way for your business.
  7. Stop micromanaging!
    Micromanaging should never happen in a successful company. You picked the members of your team for a reason. Communicate rationally and effectively about what you expect for your employees, and make clear, realistic deadlines. When your expectations and goals make sense and are communicated effectively, all you need to do is trust your employees to carry out the work that is expected of them. If you feel the need to micromanage, you have the wrong people working for you.
  8. Differentiate
    Figure out what is most important at work, and strive for the bottom line, while treating your employees well. They deserve the utmost level of respect, as you deserve respect from them. Stop focusing on all the little details and shift your perspective instead toward the bigger picture. When you take control of your company in a graceful, inclusive way, it positively impacts everyone’s work performance.
  9. Treat all your employees fairly, but not all equally
    Many companies make the mistake of treating everyone exactly the same. This is a misconception. The best businesses recognize the strengths and weaknesses of each individual employee, as well as which employees have better work performance. Endeavor to reward your top players primarily, and notice how this positively affects your company.
  10. Get data on your employees
    Even if it is a pain, it is essential to conduct employee surveys. Make sure they follow these guidelines:
  • Anonymity so your employees can feel confident in being completely honest
  • Responding so your team sees that not only do you care what they have to say, but you will endeavor to foster a better work environment by improving, based on their opinions
  • Feedback sharing so your employees will have the utmost sense of open, healthy communication as a company
  • Schedule surveys so you can regularly conduct them. Notice how things change over time. It’s important to be committed to this.

The bottom line is simple: invest in your employees and you invest in your business. When you endeavor to communicate, encourage, inspire and help their careers grow you work to create the best company possible and stay on your “A” game.

About the Author: Ava Collins is an online marketing associate with Hicks Professional Group as well as the IT staffing company’s HR manager.

photo credit: Jakob Nilsson-Ehle via photopin cc