Taking a further look at Women in the Workplace 2016, it seems that women on the path to leadership tend to get less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate careers. As a result, you see few women advancing to the top of the corporate ladder. This disparity is especially pronounced for women of color, who face the most barriers to advancement and experience the steepest drop-offs with seniority.
The new report from McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org. finds that for every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. Another statistic that is disheartening is compared to women, almost twice as many men are hired from the outside as directors—and more than three times as many are hired as senior VPs.
A recent article in Fortune Magazine reports that one inequity that seems to jump out more than any other is women being passed over for promotion. A recent survey released by career site Fairygodboss asked 1,613 women whether they think their employer treats men and women equally. While a slight majority said yes, 44% reported that they believe that some gender discrimination does go on at their company. And when those women were asked about the source of the inequity, nearly 80% said the biggest problem is the way promotions are doled out.
Sure, we’ve come a long way since the time women first entered the workforce. Today, women are represented in every industry and continue to hold prominent positions in a variety of fields. We currently have a women running for President, and many other women are heads of state and hold some of the highest positions in government. However, even as more women enter the board room and take on leadership roles, others are being left behind and passed over for promotions because of their gender. Bottom line, women see the climb to the top as steep, and those who want to reach the C-suite are less likely to think they’ll get there than men with the same aspiration.
However, while some women are being passed, other women aren’t vying for the promotions at all. Women in the Workplace finds that only 40 percent of women are interested in becoming top executives, compared to 56 percent of men. Women and men worry equally about balancing work and family, but that isn’t the only reason women aren’t stepping in line for the next promotion – women with and without children are far more likely to say they don’t want the pressure. An earlier study by researchers at Harvard Business School takes this a step further by reporting that women listed more life goals than men, but only a small number of those goals pertained to achieving power at work.
Whether being skipped because of gender or not trying for the promotion at all, we have a problem that affects every company’s bottom line. How can we level the playing field and get more women in the pipeline for leadership positions? First, companies must create a more inclusive workplace for women and men. They need to look for ways to make leadership positions more appealing to women, so that women will perceive the benefits of leadership positions. Second, women also need to make a positive impact, and claim our right to have balance in our lives. We need to work with our colleagues (both women and men) to create leadership environments that are supportive and equal. Women must be able to see workplace advancement as rewarding as other accomplishments in life and stereotypical corporate leadership needs to acknowledge and pursue a course that opens advancement and promotes more women to the executive ranks. It’s only by recognizing the problem and working together that we can create positive and lasting change.