Daddy’s Girls Get Ahead

Behind every successful woman is….a doting dad. Even at work.

Really? Is workplace culture so hard-wired to underestimate women’s contributions that a new marker of success is having a boss who has daughters?

Sadly, it seems so.

Womens’ wages rise when top male executives have daughters, according to the newly released “Like Daughter, Like Father:  How Women’s Wages Change When CEOS Have Daughters.”

(One of the co-authors, David Gaddis Ross of the Columbia Business School, has conducted other significant research on the correlation between woman-friendly workplaces and corporate financial performance.) “Like Daughter, Like Father” might provide a missing link in the apparent mystery as to why workplaces are indifferent, at best, to women’s advancement.  It takes a major, sustained effort to actually increase the number of women at the highest levels, as documented by Catalyst and the Accounting MOVE Project, which is managed by my firm.

Much of this problem is that the guys at the top think that the workplace is fair because it was fair to them. But Gaddis, discovered that the definition of ‘fairness’ depends on the gender of the CEO’s own kids.  Lo and behold: when CEO’s have daughters, they become advocates for ensuring greater pay equity for women employees. It’s simple: they treat their workplace dependents with the same definition of ‘fair’ as they do their family dependents.

The wage gap doesn’t close.  It decreases by 1% among the most educated employees and by 0.6% among the second-most educated employees. And the difference is greatest in firms with 10 to 50 employees – a size at which bosses feel personal responsibility for workplace culture and have power to change it.

You can’t do much about the gender of your boss’s children. But you can frame women’s initiatives in terms of  long-term payoff for today’s girls.  That’s a message that just might get enough Dads to buy in to make it a success in the short run, too.

contributor taliesin.


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