How to help women succeed in the workplace? Arianna Huffington wants us to sleep better and meditate. Sheryl Sandberg wants us never to stop pushing, plus surround ourselves with photographs of normal-looking women.
Trish Karter wants to pull a bunch of CEOs into a room, grab them by the lapels, and give them a healthy shake.
That’s the essence of Karter’s quixotic, fast-tracked, localized approach to solving two business-world problems at once: a persistent pay gap between women and men, and a glaring shortage of women on corporate boards. Karter, co-founder of the Dancing Deer Baking Company and a fixture in local leadership circles, has spearheaded a conference Wednesday morning called “Clearing the Path.” She has invited a specific group of people: about 120 CEOs of for-profit and not-for-profit companies in Massachusetts, representing some $30 billion in annual revenues.
Researchers will share the growing evidence that female leadership is good for business. Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick will appear to lend moral support, and suggest that Massachusetts should take on the mission of leading the nation. Then the bigwigs will talk it out, honestly, behind closed doors. Two hours, in and out; no new organizations (there are plentyof thosealready) or catchphrases (enough with the leaning!).
It all highlights Karter’s implicit faith in the power of CEOs. When a boss settles on a priority, Karter told me, it becomes a priority. So in her ideal world, the bosses will emerge from the meeting, make quick calls to human resources, and order up equitable pay scales and expansive candidate searches. At their next board meetings, they’ll announce a new objective: Getting a certain percentage of women on the board by a certain date and time.
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