Women make up nearly 50% of the workforce, yet we hold nowhere near 50% of leadership roles. And that’s a problem for many reasons, but arguably the biggest is that having so few female execs results in the perpetuation of corporate culture that doesn’t support or advance women.
Fixing this isn’t easy: For at least the past decade, most big companies tout diversity programs that encourage the hiring and promotion of women and other minority groups, but we’ve barely seen the stats budge. Now, a number of outside organizations are popping up to help big businesses fix their gender imbalances. Enter: Parity Partners.
Launched in 2016 by Caryn Effron, Beth Haggerty, Hilary Gosher, and Claudia Iannazzo, Parity Partners is an executive search firm and leadership development program dedicated to helping the financial and tech industries hire, retain, and promote women and minorities. They want to build the largest diversity database with the goal of helping Fortune 500 companies actually achieve their diversity goals and making sure women aren’t shut out from jobs in these two high-paying industries. For businesses, there is also a strong incentive: A 2015 McKinsey Report found diverse teams perform dramatically better than their homogeneous counterparts.
Haggerty, who is Parity Partner's CEO, also recognized that women need support to reach those high-level roles. In 2017, they expanded their business to include P3 (short for Parity Professional Programs), a curriculum that provides women with the leadership tools and a strong network.
“To really be part of this shift to a more equal business world, we needed to invest in that same pool of talent and really help in several ways” says Haggerty by phone the day after P3 launched in Boston, MA. “We not only help companies acquire [diverse talent] but also to help them retain and advance women. We also wanted to provide women with a community and the resources they need to stay in over the course of the career.”
Retaining women is a big part of the overall diversity problem. While men and women enter the workforce with the same ambitions, as women reach childbearing age, more and more of them scale back to part time, seek out flexible work schedules, or drop out of the workforce altogether. Parity Partners aims to give women the support they need to navigate these challenges — and having a strong network is a big part of that.
“That's why P3 was so important to us, and why it's growing so rapidly,” says Haggerty. “Women of this generation know what they have to do to get ahead. They will rise together.”
#GettingTo5050, a global movement rooted in actionable tools and resources, aims to catalyze the conversations that will inspire a more gender-balanced world. Because true equality doesn't just lift women—it lifts everyone. Learn more here. And click here to read Refinery29's profiles of eight women fighting for equality every day.