The number one issue for women in business is achieving gender equality. October is Women’s History Month in Canada and as a country, sometimes it’s easier to take note of the progress concerning the roles of women in society then to accept the inequalities still present.
A 2017 study on the status of women in corporate America showed that people are comfortable with the status quo. The report, entitled Women in the Workplace, is the largest of its kind, with data gathered from over 222 companies, and was established by LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Company.
The report shows women at all levels in corporate America are unrepresented, despite achieving more college degrees than men. The percentage of men in positions of power at the corporate level is at equal level at some companies, but higher at most others.
Ignorance about diversity within the workplace is the primary reason for this disparity. Women of colour are generally placed at a disadvantage where they are often overlooked for promotions of job advancements. Overall percentages from the study indicate that, compared to white women, women of colour get the least support from their office managers.
Two major themes were presented in the data:
- Women continue to be hired and promoted at lower rates than men and the gap is more pronounced for women of colour
- There is no difference in company level attrition and women and men appear to be leaving their organizations at the same rate.
The distribution of women weakens as you climb up the corporate ladder. Entry-level positions have a higher percentage of women compared to c-list corporate titles like CEO, COO, CFO etc. The percentage of women is also rather uneven depending on the industry. For instance, there is a lower percentage of women working in technology than you would find in the food and beverage industry.
Depending on the industry, the larger percentage of men think their companies are doing a good job at highlighting diversity in the workplace.
The report indicates the bar for gender equality is too low and on average you may only see one in 10 women in leadership roles. Men are also more likely to get what they want, like a promotion or a raise, without having to ask.
Other statistical highlights include:
- At entry–level positions, women occupy 47 per cent of jobs and only 17 per cent of that figure is represented by women of colour
- At a managing level, women get promoted at a lower rate (37 per cent) than men in that same position (63 per cent).
- At a senior C-list role, women of colour make up only three per cent or 1 in 30. At this level, white women occupy a position of 18 per cent.
- Forty per cent of white women will have their work defended by their managers. That number is 28 per cent for black women, 34 per cent for Latin American women, and 36 per cent for asian women.
The conclusion of this report doesn’t offer much hope for women in business. In order to close the still prevalent gender equality gap, most companies will need to restructure their thought patterns and policies to be more inclusive to women in the workplace.The report recommends some key suggestions such as:
- investing in more employee training
- have a compelling case for gender diversity
- managers should enable change
- employee flexibility to fit work in their lives
- hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair and balanced
These steps are not foolproof, but it does present a chance for people to question their company’s accountability and evaluate if they are doing their part to help reduce the gap.
What are your thoughts? Comment below.