PR powerhouse’s throwdown: 50% women at the top by Stephanie N. Mehta @FortuneMagazine September 2, 2011, 2:01 PM EST E-mail Tweet Facebook Google Plus Linkedin Share icons Public-relations executive Richard Edelman writes in his blog this week that he wants women to occupy half of the senior roles in his company by 2016. “Our goal is simple—50% of those on Strategy Committee, Operating Committee, GCRM and practice leadership will be women by 2016,” he writes. “They will have earned the positions; there will not be a quota.” Edelman, who is president and CEO of Edelman, the world’s largest independent public-relations firm, acknowledges that his industry has no problem attracting women. Some two-thirds of his workforce is female, he writes. But the ranks of women start to thin in leadership roles. While he claims the company never overtly paid attention to the gender issue, Edelman seems keenly aware of the barriers. He even sites Sheryl Sandberg’s famous “Don’t Leave Before You Leave” essay, which first appeared here on Postcards. Many companies talk in general terms about increasing participation of women in the senior ranks. Few executives come out and set an actual numeric goal. Is this just an example of smart, well, public relations? Or is Edelman serious about true equality in his senior ranks? We’ll check in with Edelman from time to time and let you know his firm is doing on its goals.