Leaning in? Stepping up? Dropping out? Holding on?

What’s going on with women in your organization?

Research consistently shows the value women leaders bring to their companies. Women are critical to success, yet barriers remain to their advancement at work. How can companies step up to the challenge of developing, retaining, and promoting talented female leaders?

Many Women Are Ambitious. Why the Leaky Pipeline?

A McKinsey survey found that:

  • 79% of entry-level and 83% of middle-management women desire to move to the next level at work (Barsh).
  • 75% aspire to top management roles, including the C-suite, which on par with their male counterparts (Devillard).

Yet, the majority of female employees are concentrated in entry-level and middle management positions — and that isn’t changing.

A 2014 study found that globally, the proportion of women in senior roles remains at 24%, the same as in 2007 (Scott). They make up less than 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs (Fairchild). They represent a mere 15% to 18% on boards and senior executive teams in many countries. A recent study put that figure into perspective: fewer women run S&P 1500 companies than men named John (New York Times).

There is no single factor to explain the gap between interest in moving into more senior roles and the lack of progress. Many barriers are what may be called second-generation bias or unconscious bias, including:

  • Traditional images of leadership are associated with qualities that are viewed as male.
  • A lack of female role models at high levels of leadership.
  • Career paths and work are often defined by or associated with gender.
  • Women are held to higher standards and offered fewer rewards.
  • They’re not part of the networks that supply information and support.
  • Women face a double bind of being either competent or liked — but not both.
  • The combination of work and home responsibilities is a greater burden.
  • They may be hesitant to advocate for themselves or self-promote (Ibarra; Desvaux, Barsh, Devillard).

To better understand what’s holding women back, download the complete white paper below.

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