Here is an excerpt from an article written by Jess Huang, Alexis Krivkovich, Irina Starikova, Lareina Yee, and Delia Zanoschi for the McKinsey Quarterly, published by McKinsey & Company. To read the complete article, check out others, learn more about the firm, and sign up for email alerts, please click here.
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By fostering diversity, building a culture of opportunity and fairness, and focusing their attention on the broken rung, companies can close their gender gaps—and make progress on the road to equality.
In this article, we share highlights from the full Women in the Workplace 2019 report, diving deep on the parts across pipeline and employee experience that will be most critical for companies to drive change in the next five years.
Despite progress at senior levels, gender parity remains out of reach
Over the past five years, we have seen signs of progress in the representation of women in corporate America. Since 2015, the number of women in senior leadership has grown. This is particularly true in the C-suite, where the representation of women has increased from 17 percent to 21 percent (Exhibit 1).
Although this is a step in the right direction, parity remains out of reach. Women—and particularly women of color—are underrepresented at every level. 1 And without fundamental changes early in the pipeline, gains in women’s representation will ultimately stall.
Companies are adding more women to the C-suite
Today, 44 percent of companies have three or more women in their C-suite, up from 29 percent of companies in 2015 (Exhibit 2). Adding even one woman can make a material difference given the critical role top executives play in shaping the business and culture of their company. Still, the overall representation of women in the C-suite is far from parity. About 1 in 5 C-suite executives is a woman—and only 1 in 25 C-suite executives is a woman of color.
There are signs the glass ceiling is cracking . . .
More women are becoming senior leaders. This is driven by two trends. First, more women are being hired at the director level and higher than in the past years. Second, senior-level women are being promoted on average at a higher rate than men.
Additionally, men at the SVP and C-levels are slightly more likely to leave their companies, creating more open positions for women to fill.
. . . But a “broken rung” prevents women from reaching the top
Progress at the top is constrained by a “broken rung.” The biggest obstacle women face on the path to senior leadership is at the first step up to manager (Exhibit 3). For every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. This broken rung results in more women getting stuck at the entry level, and fewer women becoming managers. Not surprisingly, men end up holding 62 percent of manager-level positions, while women hold just 38 percent.
This early inequality has a long-term impact on the talent pipeline. Since men significantly outnumber women at the manager level, there are significantly fewer women to hire or promote to senior managers. The number of women decreases at every subsequent level. So even as hiring and promotion rates improve for women at senior levels, women as a whole can never catch up. There are simply too few women to advance.
The case for fixing the broken rung is powerful. If women are promoted and hired to first-level manager at the same rates as men, we will add one million more women to management in corporate America over the next five years.
To get to gender parity, companies must fix the broken rung
For many companies, diversity efforts in hiring and promotions are focused at senior levels, and we’re encouraged by the gains that we are seeing in senior leadership. Now companies need to apply the same rigor to addressing the broken rung. Fixing it will set off a positive chain reaction across the entire pipeline. As more women become managers, there will be more women to promote and hire at each subsequent level. Put another way, more entry-level women will rise to management, and more women in management will rise to senior leadership.
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Here is a direct link to the complete article.
Jess Huang and Irina Starikova are partners in McKinsey’s Silicon Valley office, where Delia Zanoschi is a consultant; Alexis Krivkovich and Lareina Yee are senior partners in the San Francisco office.