Commentary

Fewer Women Senior Leaders

According to LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, in a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America, women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager (so, far fewer end up on the path to leadership) and they are less likely to be hired into more senior positions. Women also get less access to the people, input, and opportunities that accelerate careers. As a result, the higher you look in companies, the fewer women you see. This disparity is especially pronounced for women of color, who face the most barriers to advancement and experience the steepest drop-offs with seniority, says the report.

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Based on employee pipeline data from 132 companies, two broad themes emerge this year:

  • 1. On average, women are promoted and hired at lower rates than men, so far fewer women become senior leaders.
  • 2. At more senior levels, we see women shift from line to staff roles, so very few end up on the path to becoming CEO.

Gender Representation In The Corporate Pipeline In 2016 (% Of Employees By Level)

 

Entry Level

Manager

Sr. Manager/ Director

VP

SVP

C-Suite

Men

54%

63%

67%

71%

76%

81%

Women

46%

37%

33%

29%

24%

19%

% of women in pipeline in 2015

45%

37%

32%

27%

23%

17%

Source: LeanIn & Mckinsey, October 2016

Promotion rates for women lag behind those of men, and the disparity is largest at the first step up to manager; for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted. At every level, companies hire fewer women from the outside than men, and this is especially pronounced in senior management, says the report.

Very few women end up in line to become CEO.   At senior levels, we see women shift from line to staff roles, while the percentage of men in line roles remains about the same. So by the time women reach the SVP level, they hold a mere 20% of line roles. This hurts their odds of getting the top job because the vast majority of CEOs come from line positions.

% Of Women And Men In Line Roles (Versus Staff Roles) By Level

 

Entry Level

Manager

Sr. Manager/ Director

VP

SVP

C-Suite

Men

63%

68%

63%

65%

62%

67%

Women

56%

61%

54%

51%

50%

48%

Source: LeanIn & Mckinsey, October 2016

Women of color face even more barriers. While 78% of companies report gender diversity is a top priority, only 55% report that racial diversity is. 

Women of color are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline, lagging behind white men, men of color, and white women. Even though they make up 20% of the U.S. population, women of color hold a mere 3% of C-suite positions, despite having higher aspirations for becoming a top executive than white women.

Compared to white women, women of color also report that they get less access to opportunities and see a workplace that is less fair and inclusive. They are 9% less likely to say they’ve received a challenging new assignment, 21% less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and 10% less likely to feel comfortable being themselves as work, says the report.

These inequities appear to take a toll on women. Compared to men, they are less likely to think they have equal opportunities for growth and development—and more likely to think their gender will play a role in missing out on a raise, promotion, or chance to get ahead.

78% of companies report that commitment to gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO, up from 56% in 2012. But this commitment does not always translate into visible action. Fewer than half of employees think their company is doing what it takes to improve gender diversity. Moreover, fewer than a third of employees say senior leaders regularly communicate the importance of gender diversity and are held accountable for making progress, concludes the report.

For additional information, with charts and graphs, please visit here.

 

 

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