While 2015 might not have been revolutionary in terms of bringing gender equality to corporate America, several exciting things happened that could prove to make the lives of working women easier, and maybe even more profitable, in 2016:
When Netflix announced a new policy under which salaried employees would receive a full year of paid leave after the birth or adoption of a child, it shook up Silicon Valley. Other tech companies, including Microsoft, Adobe, Amazon, and eBay all announced more comprehensive family and maternal leave policies, sending a message that is music to the ears of working parents: Family is important to employees, so it should be important to us too.
In the beginning of 2015, Intel announced a $300 million diversity initiative that included training and recruitment of women and other under-represented groups of computer scientists. Google also came out with a plan to spend $150 million on diversity in 2015, and Facebook launched TechPrep, an online resource for minority learners.
According to Diversity Inc.’s 2015 survey comparing over 1,600 companies, Novartis Pharmaceuticals was the top organization in terms of diversity. One reason: Since 2010, the percentage of women at the top level (CEO and direct reports) has tripled, while the percentage of women at levels 2 and 3 has increased by 42 and 31 percent, respectively.
Unconscious Bias Training
In 2015, unconscious bias training became standard in HR departments across the nation. Research has shown that we all harbor unconscious biases in the workplace, particularly toward women and minorities, but enhanced awareness and training can create a more inclusive culture that identifies and helps eliminate these hidden prejudices. Major corporations such as Facebook, Coca-Cola, and Google have all implemented anti-bias training workshops, some held online, and some through in-person sessions.
With any luck, these trends will spread into 2016 and beyond, making the lives of working mothers (and fathers) a bit more manageable.
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