- Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr
New research by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. yields some disturbing findings about women’s prospects for advancement in the workplace.
Though women and men say they want to be promoted in about equal numbers (75% and 78% respectively), women are significantly less likely to make it to the next tier in their organization.
Across all organizational levels, the study found that women are a whopping 15% less likely than men to get promoted. The researchers say that, at this rate, it will take more than a century to achieve gender parity in the C-suite.
The study looked at data on promotion and attrition rates and other aspects of career paths at 118 North American companies. Researchers also surveyed nearly 30,000 men and women about their attitudes around gender diversity in the workplace.
Here are some other key results:
- Fewer women than men are aiming for the very top. Among senior managers,60% of women said they want to be a top executive, compared to 72% of men. Women were also more likely to cite stress and pressure as one of the biggest reasons for not wanting to hold top positions. Contrary to popular belief, women are not leaving their organizations at higher rates than men. In fact, women in leadership aremorelikely to stay with their companies than men. At the senior vice president level, women are 20% less likely to leave.Women in the C-suite are about half as likely to leave their organizations as men.Women often start out in line roles (defined as positions with profit-and-loss responsibility and/or focused on core operations), butby the VP level more than half of women hold staff roles(positions in functions that support the organization like legal and IT). Men, on the other hand, are more likely to hold line roles at every level of an organization. This difference poses a potential problem because line roles frequently feed into senior leadership. There’s a common misconception that women who start families are subsequently less ambitious in their careers. But mothers in the survey were 15% more interested in being a top executive than women without children. Black, Hispanic, and Asian women were 43% more interested in becoming a top executive than white womenand 16% more interested than white men.Women were nearly three times more likely than men to say their gender has posed a hindrance to their career advancement. They also said that they’re consulted less often on key decisions. A majority (74%) of companies said gender diversity is a top priority of their CEO, but less than half of workers said the same. Only a third of employees said it’s a top priority for their direct manager.Very few people participate in flexibility and career-development programs offered by their organizations. More than 90% of women and men believe taking extended family leave will hurt their position at work. At every level, women were at least nine times more likely than men to say they do more childcare and at least four times more likely to say they do more chores at home.
- University of Exeter/Flickr
These results suggest that we’re far from achieving gender equality in the workplace. Moreover, there’s a clear disparity between how women perceive their opportunities for advancement and how their companies see it.
The researchers say one solution is to quantify the problem. For example, companies can track key metrics such as the number of women and men in the hiring process, promotion rates for women and men, and women and men’s satisfaction with their roles. They also suggest setting gender targets and holding leaders responsible for meeting them.
The researchers further recommend that companies institute training to help employees learn about what gender bias is and how to combat it. Men and women alike could be unwittingly undermining their coworkers’ ability to succeed at work, and the first step to resolving this issue is making them aware of their behavior.