An interview with Carol Fulp, President and CEO of The Partnership
Why did The Partnership decide to sign the 100% Talent Compact?
For the past 30 years, The Partnership has worked to develop, support, and enhance ethnically diverse business and civic leadership in the City of Boston. Eliminating the gender wage gap is not only the right thing to do - it is smart thing to do. As an executive who works on creating pipelines of leadership, signing the 100% Talent Compact directly aligns with The Partnership’s mission and the causes I so value. In addition, women of color are more adversely impacted by the wage gap.
Why do you think pay equity is important? What benefits do you see, for men and women, in narrowing the wage gap?
More than 70 years ago, Massachusetts was the first state to pass a pay equity law – and yet throughout the country, too many women are still fighting to earn a wage equal to their male counterparts. With women as the breadwinners in 40 percent of households with children, equal pay is core to the economic security of families and crucial to our economic growth as a Commonwealth and a country. When women thrive, businesses thrive. In fact, research shows that businesses see an increase in their bottom line when the leadership has ethnic and gender diversity. When we pay hardworking people equal pay for equal work, we invest in all our human capital – and that means we’re better positioned to attract and retain the best talent.
There is an even wider gender wage gap for women of color. What steps, in your opinion, should be taken to reduce this wage gap?
First, it’s on business leaders to maintain an inclusive culture and pay structure. In fact, employer interventions are among the most effective remedies to the wage gap. Wage transparency, in particular, helps narrow the wage gap by standardizing the way we compensate our employees and empowering employees to negotiate or discuss performance and pay. The 100% Talent Compact is a crucial first step in holding businesses accountable in compensating employees fairly. Next, corporate mentoring programs – like The Partnership’s Leadership Development Programs – are key for building pipelines of role models and mentors who can help young women – particularly women of color – realize opportunities and feel supported and empowered.
The Partnership works with organizations in all sectors to build diverse leadership pipelines. Why is diversity in the workforce important? What are some practices that companies can implement?
A diverse workforce fuels businesses with a wide range of backgrounds, experiences, perspectives and visions – and that means a lot for innovation and development of new ideas. Growing the number of women and multicultural professionals in the C-Suite starts in the boardroom. In fact, research shows a strong correlation between the number of women serving on boards and leading in the executive corridor. A diverse board encourages more women and multicultural professionals to pursue executive positions – and it facilitates real, companywide changes that can help advance diversity in the workplace. At The Partnership, we are deeply committed to creating a corporate climate that reflects diversity and helps multicultural professionals thrive through business introductions and board placement services.
Being a female CEO of color, have you faced any particularly difficult challenges? If so, how have you overcome them?
As a person of difference, I have faced challenges all my life. It is important that we view challenges that we face as opportunities that strengthen us, make us resilient, smarter, a better navigator, and ultimately a better leader who works with others to help break down discrimination of all kinds.
The Boston Business Journal has placed you on their “50 Most Influential Bostonians” list and Boston Magazine listed you as one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in Boston.” To what do you attribute being a successful businesswoman? What abilities must women possess in order to advance in the workplace?
First and foremost, I have had the good fortune of having many who have believed in me, many who serve as incredible examples of leadership and many who have provided access for me. What I have learned that is not your own personal accomplishments that matter most, but how many others you have brought along with you. That is the true measure of success.
With Boston becoming a majority minority city, how can companies focus on fair hiring practices?
Companies can work to have their organizations reflect the rich diversity that Boston offers at every level of their organization. It just makes good business sense as study after study indicates diversity brings about more creativity and innovation.