Which brands are “glass-ceiling” certified? A new way to vote with your purse.

FEM logo 300x153 Which brands are glass ceiling certified? A new way to vote with your purse.

Every once in a while, I stumble upon someone doing something so smart and cool and necessary that I become like a love-sick teenager — singing this new friend’s praises to everyone I meet. My new business crush is none other than Kathlene Mullens, Founder and CEO of Female Equality Matters. I have been tweeting, talking and now blogging about her all week long. Lucky you, dear readers, now get to see what this kick-ass woman is up to.

Kathlene, you were the visionary behind the “No Glass Ceiling” Brand/Certification program. How does it work?

We review the gender composition of the top leadership of an organization by studying public information about the company. If 20% or more of the roles are held by females, the organization is Female Equality Matters® Certified.

How many companies — and what types of companies — have you certified so far?

Right now there are just over 50 organizations that have been certified. We hope to double that number within the next year. Sometimes we do certifications proactively and other times at the request of the company itself. Organizations might be a for-profit, part of a for-profit such as an individual brand, a non-profit, or even a college or university.

Any surprises in companies that were less or more female-friendly than you expected?

We were surprised that ITT, a large defense contractor, and Sunoco, a large petrochemical firm, both met the Female Equality Matters® Certification standards.

Overall, what’s truly surprising is that any organization — no matter the industry — does not have at least 20% of its top leadership roles filled with women. After all, we live in a world where women are half of the workforce.

Agreed. It’s even a sad state of affairs that 20% is the benchmark for success! But here’s a ray of hope: share with our readers what you discovered about companies where male CEO’s had daughters.

It’s been one of the more interesting data points — when male CEO’s have daughters, they tend to make moves to close the gender pay gap at their companies. Men actually can help women to make tremendous strides in cracking the glass ceiling, avoiding the glass cliff, and developing women as (fairly paid) talent in general, if they choose. This data was wonderful to see make headlines in the Wall Street Journal.

How might this change how consumers shop, especially female consumers?

The potential changes are nothing less than profound.

Everyone knows that women control somewhere between 70% – 85% of consumer purchases. The “pink ribbon” campaigns show the dollars that can be driven to products by passionate women. Our own research indicates that 94% of respondents believe there is a glass ceiling, and that it has negatively impacted the majority of their careers. Our certification on a product would motivate these women to purchase it over other similarly-priced products 36% of the time.

Perhaps more surprising is that, for an additional 34% of respondents, our certification on a product would result in a purchase even if the Female Equality Matters ® Certified product was more expensive. That’s 70% purchasing-driving potential! Even if our data is only half-right, it demonstrates a concept that is clearly meaningful to consumers.

Absolutely. We’ve seen this same behavior play out with mom consumers when brands have charitable give-backs. How will this research — and your certification — motivate companies?

Companies may or may not respond to putting more women into top leadership because it’s the “right thing.” But any organization- regardless of whether it is for profit or non-profit – almost always responds to clear, legal opportunities to grow the bottom line. What better way for women to help women by improving the bottom lines of organizations that have proven that they value women at the top? This positive consumer pressure should yield compelling rationale to recruit more women into top roles at other organizations. The demand for the limited pool of female talent will also, we hope, help to close the gender-based wage gap that still exists for women in top leadership roles. It’s a virtuous circle that we are looking forward to watching come to pass.

Right on! Keep up the great work. How can our readers keep updated on what Female Equality Group is up to?

The best way is to follow us on Twitter @femaleequality.

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