In 2014, few dispute that women-run companies perform better than average. Yet too many companies are lagging when it comes to hiring female executives. Here, Naomi Titleman, vice-president of human resources at American Express Canada—where 52% of the senior leadership team are women—shares the secret to making your workplace more equitable (and profitable).

1. Go big on flexible work options

“We’re in an era where productivity and results are more important than face time. Obviously, some roles require time in the office, but we believe that if you offer flexibility, women will feel more engaged and empowered. We have people on our team who leave the office early knowing their work has to get done at some point. And it does.”

2. Bring senior leadership to the table

“We’ve got a women’s interests network, and we bring it together for a biannual conference with senior leadership globally. They raise various ideas that often then get rolled out across the organization.”

3. Put your mentorship program on steroids

“We have various programs and channels for mentorship, but what we find especially effective is our sponsorship policy—it’s like mentorship on steroids. A senior leader will choose to sponsor a more junior employee who shows high potential and guide them through important moves in her career. Sponsors open doors for talent, make connections on their behalf and put them forward for top assignments. These are the people who will really pound on the table and advocate for you.”

4. Go public

“We make sure our successful female leaders are out there speaking, talking about how we’ve made it work at American Express. They act as key role models, so junior women can look up to them and say, ‘That’s what we want to be.’”

This story is part of the package in the October 2014 issue of Canadian Business. Click here for more useful, business-building tips, or here to subscribe to the magazine!

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