Bridging the Gender Gap in Corporate Leadership
Leadership | March 9, 2017

As Tri Delta continues to grow and thrive as a premier women’s organization, we are fortunate to have dynamic, professional women in key leadership positions across the enterprise.  Executive Board Director Sandra Beach Lin, Toledo, is no exception. Passionate about developing and empowering women leaders, Sandy is paving the way forward through her professionalism and volunteerism.

Sandy’s 30-year career in the industrial sector of corporate America is highlighted by multiple senior executive roles, including a chief executive officer position for a Silicon Valley start-up. Sandy traces many of the fundamentals of her success in business and leadership to her time as a collegian in Tri Delta.

“Tri Delta clearly sparked the ability to be a leader in my chapter and to understand the commitment to our sisterhood as a team player. From my vantage point now as an Executive Board member, I’m able to see that Tri Delta provides the perfect training ground for women as they embark on their careers,” Sandy said. “We give our collegiate members important metrics for what success looks like at the chapter level. No matter the career field you choose, you will be measured. Setting high standards of excellence early will allow you to perform and achieve, rather than just get by.”

Tri Delta also fostered Sandy’s love of healthy competition. As a collegian, her chapter had high expectations and standards for top scholastic achievement and even singing competitions. “Competition can be fun, but it’s also really important. There are many people in the workforce who want to do exactly what you want to do. The competition is real, and the numbers fade fast as you get closer to the top.  You have to be and stay competitive, and continually learn and grow your skill base.”

Sandy acknowledges that relationship-building and networking are important skills in business and feels Tri Delta is the perfect place to develop and hone these skills.  “Networking is such an important skill. You will be interacting with so many kinds of people with different experiences and backgrounds throughout your career. Networking can and should start in Tri Delta, as we learn and grow together with our sisters.”

Networking in the workplace often naturally leads to mentorship, where leaders share advice and guidance with others.  “Sponsorship takes that one step further,” Sandy said.  “By sponsoring someone, you commit to providing hands-on assistance to an individual woman as she navigates her career, often recommending or supporting her for promotions within an organization.”  Sandy feels sponsorship is critical for advancing women in business, noting that there are still substantially fewer women than men in the executive suites of companies today.

“As women, we make 80 percent of all purchasing decisions. We should be in the workforce in the highest levels of business, whether for corporations, hospitals or law firms. Study after study shows that having more women and more diversity at a corporation’s highest level yields higher earnings and better financial results,” Sandy said.

Fueled by this disparity in gender-balanced leadership, Sandy and several like-minded female executives, entrepreneurs and business scholars launched a movement called Paradigm for ParitySM (P4P) coalition.  This coalition of business leaders is dedicated to addressing the corporate leadership gender gap and committed to creating a new normal in the corporate world, where women and men have equal power, status and opportunity. The ultimate goal is to achieve full gender parity by 2030, with a near-term goal of women holding at least 30 percent of senior level positions.

The movement has gotten off to a quick start, with 35 companies committed as catalysts for change as they seek to effectively decrease the gender gap and increase the number of women in leadership positions by implementing the Paradigm for ParitySM 5-Step Action Plan:

  1. Minimize or Eliminate Unconscious Bias – engaging women and men at all levels, starting at the CEO and senior levels to eliminate biases that prevent women from succeeding
  2. Significantly Increase the Number of Women in Senior Operating Roles – making full gender parity an ultimate goal. As a near-term goal, targeting that no single gender will account for more than 70 percent of a leadership level.
  3. Measure Targets at Every Level and Communicate Progress and Results Regularly – setting measurable goals and maintaining accountability, expect meaningful progress and sharing results
  4. Base Career Progress on Business Results and Performance, Not Presence – creating cultural change where workplace flexibility is embraced and acknowledging the needs of generational employees
  5. Identify Women of Potential and Give Them Sponsors and Mentors – providing women of all backgrounds access to networks of influence and career sponsors to enable success within an organization

As the co-chair for P4P, which launched publicly in December 2016, Sandy said, “Many CEOs wanted the opportunity to achieve parity, but didn’t know how to get there. Now through the P4P Action Plan, they have a blueprint for success and practical steps they can take to close the gender gap.” While gender parity is the ultimate goal, Sandy and her P4P co-founders acknowledge that having more women in executive suites will result in different perspectives at the proverbial “table,” and perhaps new goals like flexible work schedules and pay equity.

“As Tri Delta, it’s incumbent upon us to prepare our sisters to live, learn and lead as they begin their careers. As women in the workforce, we have to remember to ask for what we want. We have choices as women, including choices in our careers. The Paradigm for ParitySM movement aims to ensure women who want a career in the corporate world have an equal opportunity to succeed.”

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