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Why don’t some companies care about equality?

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“Why do some companies seem to understand the importance of gender equality, while other companies — like mine — are light years behind?” 

I remember sitting in Dallas in 2009 at a women’s leadership conference listening to Don Knauss, then CEO and President of The Clorox Company. He shared a story about what led him to become a champion for a better corporate America.

Early in his career, his came home from work one day absolutely distraught. She hadn’t received a pay increase despite the fact she was one of the company’s best performers, while her male counterparts, doing the same job, received pay increases.

As she expressed her feelings to Don, he felt anger — anger to the point of fury. Gender inequality became personal to him. From that moment on, gender equality was of the utmost importance to him. He committed himself to creating a level playing field for women — a field where they could be promoted and paid without gender discrimination.

His wife’s experiences fueled a fire in Don that still burns to this day. He is one of the few c-suite leaders to champion gender equality in corporate America and originate true change. He’s a leader who has had the hard conversations about “off-limits” topics. That is what drives workplace change and equality: Those ah-ha moments followed by courageous conversations. 

Have you thought about championing gender equality in your workplace? Now is the time. You have had your ah-ha moment — and you can spark an ah-ha in someone else.

What is the conversation you need to have to create an “ah-ha” in someone else? That conversation can serve as a spark to ignite the change needed to level the playing field.

Trudy Bourgeois is founder and CEO of The Center for Workforce Excellence and the author of four books, including the most recent, Equality: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men and Race To Spark A Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough. She previously held senior leadership roles in the consumer goods industry. 

Views expressed in blogs, posts and user comments are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Network of Executive Women or its Officers, Board members and corporate partners.