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8 Things Powerful Women Are Doing to Get Their Companies Closer to Equal

October 4, 2018, 6:38 PM UTC

For the first time at Fortune‘s Most Powerful Women Summit, the powerful women in the audience joined the women on stage in a town hall discussion.

The women shared with moderator Mellody Hobson successes they have had in getting closer to equality for women in the workplace—and beyond. These are the eight things powerful women are doing to reach that goal.

1. Anita Hill: Deal with “gateway behaviors”

The town hall kicked off with the perspective of one woman who knows these topics and problems better than anyone: Anita Hill. After a long discussion covering her perspective on Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh, the law professor shared some practical advice for how to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

“What we allow to happen is a lot of gender harassment, where comments are made about women, that may or may not be sexual and a lot of times they’re not sexual, but they amount to harassment based on gender,” she said.

“If we can start to get out in front of some of those, if we have proactive managers who can actually recognize that those are gateway behaviors into sexual harassment and give them tools to address those problems beforehand. We shouldn’t try to just limit it to the most egregious behaviors. We’ve got to get in front of it, deal proactively with it.”

2. Tie diversity successes and failures to executive pay and bonuses

Health care business Abbott’s chief marketing officer Elaine Leavenworth says to make diversity and inclusion an explicit part of executive compensation. Diversity numbers and goals went up on a board at meetings, and leaders who didn’t meet those goals “got dinged” like they might for failing to meet other business goals.

“If you didn’t make your numbers and show the progress that was set for you, you didn’t get part of your bonus,” Leavenworth said.

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The system didn’t face pushback. “It was the culture. It was time to get it right,” Leavenworth said.

Lata Reddy, senior vice president for diversity, inclusion, and impact at Prudential, said that the firm recently tied long-term compensation to progress on diversity goals.

3. Set the tone at the top

If your senior leaders aren’t fully behind increasing representation of women and underrepresented groups at your company and in leadership roles, it won’t happen. Thasunda Duckett, CEO of Chase Consumer Banking at JPMorgan Chase, has helped lead the bank’s initiative Women on the Move.

“It’s about intentional leadership. It starts at the top,” she said. “It’s not just when you’re in front of women or when you’re in front of other minority groups—it’s in your shareholders’ letter.”

4. Treat diversity like a business problem

More from Duckett: “When [diversity and inclusion] is a business imperative, you ask different questions. You ask the question, ‘What’s the job to get done? What are the problems getting in the way? Who’s going to be assigned to it? Who’s the owner?'”

5. Don’t rely on the Rooney Rule

The Rooney Rule requires companies to bring in at least one diverse candidate for job openings—but that’s not enough. You need at least two so that those candidates are evaluated on their merits and not as the diversity candidate, Chase Consumer Banking’s Duckett said.

“When there’s only one, you start to manage to the difference, and when you see difference, you see risk,” she said.

At Aspect Ventures, founding partners Theresia Gouw and Jennifer Fonstad followed the Rooney Rule with a twist: interview at least one man for every job.

6. Just do it

You might have heard about Salesforce’s efforts to fix its gender pay gap. CEO Marc Benioff appeared on 60 Minutes earlier this year to share the company’s journey to correct its imbalance—requiring an investment of $3 million in fixing the problem.

Salesforce president and chief people officer Cindy Robbins, the woman who convinced Benioff to address equal pay at the company, told the audience how she made that happen. Salesforce did an audit of its pay practices and followed through on fixing the problems it found.

“We can’t do it, look under the hood, see a big dollar sign and walk away because we’re afraid of that number,” Robbins said she told Benioff.

7. Get men to advocate for women

Jane Fraser, CEO for Citi in Latin America, said that the firm addressed concerns about its diversity efforts—”is there room for men in this company anymore?”—by getting men involved.

8. Highlight the good

Theresia Gouw of Aspect Ventures has made an effort through the new organization All Raise, founded by women in venture capital, to make sure people are hearing about the successes of female founders and the progress at venture capital firms that are finally hiring women as investing partners. The good news serves as a counter to what can feel like endless bad news for women out of Silicon Valley—and can spur action at companies that aren’t getting highlighted.

“It’s guilt by omission: if you’re not in those positive stories, then we know what that means,” Gouw said.