1 million women may become managers in the next five years. A new study found that the biggest obstacle women face to advancing to leadership positions is the first promotion to manager and provided solutions for removing the barriers that hold women back. The fifth annual “Women in the Workplace” study by the consulting firm McKinsey and Company and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit Lean In surveyed more than 68,500 employees and 329 organizations and looked at five years of their previously collected data to understand the gender leadership gap in corporate America and how to fix it.
The “broken rung” is holding women back
For every 100 men promoted or hired to a manager position, there are 72 women given that first promotion, the study found. This “first promotion gap” is more pronounced for women of color. For every 100 entry-level men promoted to manager, just 68 Latina women and 58 Black women are given the same opportunity. Similarly, for every 100 men hired into a manager role, 57 Latina women and 64 Black women are hired for that level. The researchers call this discrepancy the “broken rung” and explain that the ripple effects impact representation at all levels of a company.
“Since men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, there are significantly fewer women to hire or promote to senior managers. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level,” the researchers wrote, “So even as hiring and promotion rates improve for women at senior levels, women as a whole can never catch up. There are simply too few women to advance.”
The “broken rung” isn’t widely recognized
People don’t realize that the promotion to manager is one of the biggest challenges to reaching gender parity. Instead, a majority of the human resources leaders and other employees surveyed said that the main barriers are that women receive less sponsorship, that there are too few qualified women to promote and that women and men are evaluated on different standards.
More than half said they think that their company will reach gender parity in leadership positions in the next 10 years, which is more optimistic than the researchers projection that it will take decades at the current rate, and might not happen at all.
The “broken rung” can be fixed
The researchers propose that there are five primary solutions companies can take to fix the “broken rung” and achieve gender equality sooner. That includes setting a goal for the number of women promoted to first-level management, requiring that a diverse slate of candidates is considered for every position, making hiring managers go through unconscious bias training and establishing a clear hiring and promotion process to prevent bias. It is also critical for women to have the experience and support necessary to be ready for managerial positions, such as leadership training and access to high-profile assignments and mentor and sponsor relationships.
The good news is that the report finds that if women are promoted and hired to first-level management positions at the same rate as their male counterparts, there will be 1 million more women in management positions in corporate America in the next five years.
Source: Forbes – Leadership