Over the past several years, the landscape for women in leadership looks more fluid. Women are finding their voice, despite the challenges confronted. The new generation of women are less exceptive to gruel and devious treatment taken by past generations of women. Many women in leadership have undergone many setbacks in their climb to the top, from being ignored in the board room to sexual harassment in the breakroom. According to McKinsey’s research report in partnership with Leaning.Org on women in the workplace, they looked back on data and insights since 2015 from close to 600 companies that participated in their study, more than a quarter of a million people that were surveyed on their workplace experiences, and more than 100 in-depth one-on-one interviews that were conducted. They found in the last five years; more women have risen to the top levels of companies. An increasing number of companies are seeing the value of having more women in leadership, and they’re proving that they can make progress on gender diversity. Their research proves that companies are moving in the right direction.
Understand that women continue to be underrepresented at every level. Gender parity is still out of reach. Women are still not hired and promoted at the same rate as their male counterpart’s. The McKinsey’s report outlines five steps that companies can take to improve gender parity.
1. Set a goal for getting more women into first level management
About a third of companies set targets for the representation of women at first-level management, compared to 41 percent for senior levels of management. Companies should use targets more aggressively. Given how important it is to fix the broken step, companies would be well served by setting and publicizing a bold goal to grow the number of women at the manager level. Moreover, companies should put targets in place for hiring and promotions, the processes that most directly shape employee representation.
2. Require diverse slates for hiring and promotions
Companies are more likely to require diverse candidate slates for promotions at senior levels than at the manager level. But outside research shows that diverse slates can be a powerful driver of change at every level. When two or more women are included on a slate, the likelihood that a woman will get the position rises dramatically. The biggest obstacle women face is the first step up to management.
3. Put evaluators through unconscious bias training
Unconscious bias can play a large role in determining who is hired, promoted, or left behind. Companies are less likely to provide unconscious bias training for employees who participate in entry-level performance reviews than senior level reviews but mitigating bias at this stage is particularly important. Candidates tend to have shorter track records early in their careers, and evaluators may make unfair, gendered assumptions about their future potential. There is also compelling evidence that this training works: In companies with smaller gender disparities in representation, half of employees received unconscious bias training in the past year, compared to only a quarter of employees in companies that aren’t making progress closing these gaps.
4. Establish clear evaluation criteria
Companies need to make sure they have the right processes in place to prevent bias from creeping into hiring and reviews. This means establishing clear evaluation criteria before the review process begins. Evaluation tools should also be easy to use and designed to gather objective, measurable input. For example, a rating scale is generally more effective than an open-ended assessment.
Even with the right systems in place, processes can break down in practice. Employees are less likely than HR leaders to say that evaluation criteria are defined before candidate reviews begin, and they report that participating employees do not typically
flag bias when they see it. This points to the need for companies to put additional safeguards in place to encourage fair, unbiased evaluations. Without exception, candidates for the same role should be evaluated using the same criteria. Employees should feel empowered to surface bias in the moment and have the training and resources to act when they observe it. In addition, outside research shows that it can help to have a third party in the room when evaluators discuss candidates to highlight potential bias and encourage objectivity.
5. Put more women in line for the step up to manager
It is critical that women get the experience they need to be ready for management roles, as well as opportunities to raise their profile so they get tapped for them. The building blocks to make this happen are not new—leadership training, sponsorship, high-profile assignments—but many companies need to provide them with a renewed sense of urgency.
The report additionally outlines that together, opportunity and fairness are the biggest predictors of employee satisfaction. Employees universally value opportunity and fairness. Across demographic groups, when employees feel they have equal opportunity for advancement and think the system is fair, they are happier with their career, plan to stay at their company longer, and are more likely to recommend it as a great place to work. Research in this report looked at several factors that prior outside research has shown influence employee satisfaction and retention—including leadership accountability and manager support—and together opportunity and fairness stand out as the strongest predictors by far. To view McKinsey’s Research report in its entirety, visit their website. (Mckinsey.com)
Movements such as the Me-Too Movement are viable vehicles for keeping challenges women confront alive. The Me-Too movement is a movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault. The phrase "Me Too" was initially used in this context on social media in 2006, on Myspace, by sexual harassment survivor and activist Tarana Burke.
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. … It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” Ruth Bader Ginsberg
"When a man gives his opinion, he's a man; when a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch."
"There's something so special about a woman who dominates in a man's world. It takes a certain grace, strength, intelligence, fearlessness, and the nerve to never take no for an answer.”
"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish."
(Photo credit Above: Ingrid Frahm, Getty Images)