Corporate America Isn’t Doing Enough To Close The Gender Gap, New Report Says
On Tuesday, October 23, management consulting firm McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org, a nonprofit organization founded by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg that aims to offer support to women in the workplace, released Women in the Workplace 2018, the largest annual report on the state of women in corporate America. The report had some troubling findings for women in the workforce year — it showed that although companies keep saying that they’re highly committed to gender diversity at all levels in the office, the proportion of women in their organizations barely budges.
The report looked at pipeline data from 279 companies that collectively employ more than 13 million people. Based on the results, McKinsey and LeanIn.Org concluded that women continue to be heavily underrepresented at every level in corporate America — only one out of every five senior leaders is a woman. Sadly, women of color are even more underrepresented in corporate leadership roles in America. They account for only one out of every 25 senior leaders.
It’s interesting to see that this is the state of the average workplace despite the fact that extensive research has proven time and again that diversity in the workplace, including gender diversity, leads to better company performance, more innovation and stronger economic growth. And women are clearly doing their part in working to close the gender gap. The report’s authors maintain that women are asking for promotions and negotiating salaries at the same rate as men, and they’re also staying in the workforce for the same length of time as their male counterparts.
McKinsey and LeanIn.Org maintain that, in order to close gender gaps, companies need to focus on hiring more women for entry-level positions and on promoting more women to manager-level roles. Even though women earn more bachelor’s degrees than men, they are less likely to be hired into entry-level positions. And, due in part to this imbalance, men end up holding 62 percent of manager positions while women only hold 38 percent of them.
The report’s authors maintain that if corporate America continues to hire and promote women to manager roles at current rates, the number of women in manager roles will only increase by one percent over the next 10 years. But if companies step up their game and start hiring and promoting women and men at the same rate, we could come close to closing the gender gap in management over the course of the next decade.
Closing the gender gap in America’s corporate leadership isn’t just good for companies — it’s also good for the U.S. economy. According to Sandberg, “If women participated in the U.S. workforce at the same rate as men, we could grow the GDP by 5 percent.” What’s more, women in leadership roles who identify as “Onlys” — the only woman or one of the only women in the room at work — face more daily microaggressions and discriminations compared to women in more gender-diverse workplaces. These women are also twice as likely to have been sexually harassed at some point in their careers, and they’re more likely to consider leaving their current jobs.
According to McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, there are several actionable steps that companies can take to work toward closing the gender gap at a faster rate. They include:
- Creating targets for equal gender representation at all levels and tracking company progress towards those goals.
- Taking active measures to ensure the prevention of gender bias during the hiring and promotion process.
- Providing an incentive for senior leaders and managers to become champions of gender diversity.
- Making it easier for employees to balance family and work life by providing more flexibility.