How Companies like Intuit, TD Securities, and Egon Zehnder Are Striving For Gender Equality

November 8, 2018, 10:13 PM UTC
Martine Irman
Martine Irman of TD Securities speaks during Fortune's Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal on Nov. 6. 2018.
Rebecca Greenfield for Fortune Most Powerful Women International

Climbing the corporate ladder can be a challenge for women, but there are ways businesses can make it easier for them to meet their leadership goals.

Some practices include engaging men to make a difference, while others hinge on encouraging women to be who they truly are—instead of trying to live up to expectations, according to some female business leaders who were discussing possible paths to the c-suite at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit in Montreal on Tuesday.

Martine Irman, vice chair and head of global enterprise banking at TD Securities, said efforts to engage men—calling them out for not behaving in a way that suits a diverse environment, while rewarding them when they do—have evolved at her company over time.

“We now have to change our workspace,” she said. “We have to change how we approach women, how we approach men in the recruitment effort.”

She added that there is an effort to engage the younger community, telling women that they’ll have jobs to come back to if they go on maternity leave, while also having things like a “mandatory Saturday off” for investment bankers.

Others taking part in the discussion talked about companies setting goals for gender parity and also taking the time to review whether all employees were being paid at a fair rate for their work.

But in addition to such company-run initiatives, some attendees also said it would be good to have more conversations that encourage women to be bold, take risks, and push harder for what they want.

“There are some things which women just have to get out there and be much more forthright about what they want,” said Jill Ader, chairwoman of global executive search firm Egon Zehnder. “If we aren’t willing to put ourselves forward, it’s really difficult to change the direction that we’re going.”

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