Today, there are more women at the helm of the biggest companies in the world, however, the journey that they have been through to get there has not been an easy one; there are too many obstacles that have got in the way. A study by McKinsey & Co. in collaboration with Lean In revealed that women aren’t facing problems with the infamous “glass ceiling”, rather they are encountering problems much earlier in their career, like middle management and when they take on their first managerial role.
The ‘broken rung’ is the biggest systemic barrier to gender parity
For the last five years, McKinsey has teamed up with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In to produce data on women in the workplace in the US. ‘For the 2019 report, they collected information from over 300 organizations employing a total of 13 million people. They also surveyed more than 68,500 employees, making Women in the Workplace the biggest contemporary study of women in corporate America, McKinsey and Lean In said.’ The report added that for every 100 men promoted in the US, only 7 women were promoted in their respective companies and this imbalance is even greater among women of color and other ethnic minorities. As a result, more men are in leadership positions as compared to women, about 62 percent of men. The authors of the report said, “Based on five years of pipeline data from hundreds of companies, this ‘broken rung’ is the biggest systemic barrier to gender parity.”
Sponsorship and training do have a role to play, ensuring there are women ready for the roles when they come around
However, a huge problem that remains is the unawareness of leaders of such a gender disparity and while they do agree that there is a lack of women in the pipeline, they do not think it is due to a lack of first-time female managers. In a bid to fix the issue, McKinsey suggests a three-pronged approach, “Goal-setting, hiring norms, and readying internal female candidates for management roles.” Together with Lean In McKinsey wants companies to hire and promote more women to managerial roles, particularly first-management because this is a stepping stone to climbing the leadership ladder. “A lot of the work of hiring diverse teams is done by making sure there are diverse people available. That means demanding slates of candidates from different backgrounds and making sure evaluators check their biases when making judgments about them. Sponsorship and training are needed, ensuring they are women ready for the roles when they come around.” Moreover, sponsorship has a role to play in all of this because women are ready to take on leadership roles, but the question remains, how many employers are offering them the job?
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