“Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is a pressing need to do more, and most organizations realize this: company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row. Despite this commitment, progress continues to be too slow—and may even be stalling.”
So opens the latest report from LeanIn.org and global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company titled, “Women In The Workplace 2017.” The report outlines the progress being made to address gender diversity in corporate America. There is much work to be done.
The study finds that the corporate “blind spots” are inhibiting progress with gender diversity. As the study puts it: “We can’t solve problems that we don’t see or understand clearly.”
Here are some of the findings.
- Fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women being 57 percent of recent college graduates.
- On average, women are promoted at a lower rate than men. The biggest gender gap is at the first step up to manager: entry-level women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male peers.
- One in five C-suite leaders is a woman, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color.
- Women of color are underrepresented in the corporate pipeline, lagging behind white men, men of color and white women. They also face more obstacles and a steeper path to leadership, from receiving less support from managers to getting promoted more slowly.
The report’s authors suggest that companies need a comprehensive plan for supporting and advancing women. They suggest companies start by taking these core actions:
- Make a compelling case for gender diversity.
- Invest in more employee training.
- Ensure that hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair.
- Give employees the flexibility to fit work into their lives.
- Focus on accountability and results.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to achieving gender diversity is perception. In the McKinsey study, nearly 50 percent of men think women are well represented in leadership in companies where only one in ten senior leaders are women.
In PwC’s 2017 Annual Corporate Directors Survey of 886 corporate directors only 25% of boards in the S&P 500 had more than two female directors. Nearly one in five directors (18%) say diversity has had no benefit on their board. And less than two-thirds (59%) believe it enhances company performance. As for the pace of diversity, 80% of female directors say it’s too slow, but only 33% of male directors agree. In fact, 43% of directors say that gender and racial diversity do not improve relationships with investors at all—even as investors like State Street Global Advisors are taking stronger positions on the need for diversity.
As the nation continues to better the work standards for women, particularly in the corporate sector, there is still much more work to be done.