Speaker Jeffery Tobias Halter stood tall in a pair of size 14 red pumps during the Iowa Women Lead Change Central Iowa Conference on Tuesday with a message: 17 out of 20 pairs of shoes in executive leadership belong to men.

In his message, Halter focused in on engaging those 17 shoe-wearers.

"[Male engagement] is the last frontier. It’s how we drive long-term, systemic change for women," Halter told the audience. "We don’t have 1,000 men in this room, so I’m going to ask women to help take this message back."

"This will be the last time you will applaud men for coming to a women’s leadership event. It should be a baseline expectation of being a leader today," he added later.

The National Association of Female Executives identifies the 50 best places for women to work in the country, but even in those companies with aggressive gender diversity strategies, two out of three promotions still go to men, Halter said.

"In most companies, 83 percent of promotions still go to men. There is no proof that men are being disparately impacted," he said.

Yet, the two groups companies struggle to engage the most in gender diversity initiatives are middle managers and male employees.

Ten thousand baby boomers a day are leaving the workforce, "so if you work for a boomer, there’s hope," Halter quipped.

Eighty-five percent of new entries to the workforce are women, millennials or people of color. By 2025, millennials will be 75 percent of the workforce; 12 percent of millennials identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.

"If you’re not ready to have a transgender conversation in your workplace, you need to think about how that’s going to happen," Halter said.

"I hear a lot of well-meaning people say, ‘Our company’s on a diversity journey,’ " Halter added. "I was never on a ‘sales journey’ ... but we let this soft speak permeate a really important topic. People go on journeys; companies implement long-term strategic plans that we can hold people accountable to."