Why after decades of efforts to achieve equal opportunities for women, the gender gap in corporate leadership is yet to be closed? This is a question often raised by workshop participants says Mars Venus Coach Rich Bernstein.
A recent study by Catalyst found that women account for 51.4% of middle managers in the U.S. but only 4.2% of Fortune 500 CEO’s.
While it is common to view the career advancement of women as an equality issue, it is our opinion at Mars Venus Coaching that it is really a business issue. Economic studies show that corporations with women on boards and in senior leadership positions have a higher return on equity. In Europe, these returns have been estimated at more than 10 percent higher. There’s a business case to be made for the results women bring to the table.
Women enter the workforce in similar percentages as men in the U.S., but the percentage of women who advance to manager and director levels drops off drastically compared to male counterparts. A new report from Catalyst entitled “Good Intentions, Imperfect Execution? Women Get Fewer of the ‘Hot Jobs’ Needed to Advance,” found that women often get fewer opportunities to run larger, more visible projects, and miss out on mission-critical roles and international experiences that are key to advancement. For example, more men than women got “hot jobs” after being in leadership development programs, and more men were promoted within a year of program completion (51% of men vs. 37% of women).
What can companies do to close the gender gap and decrease the “leaking pipe” of talent?
Change requires measurable, management-led policies and practices that drive female leadership, across management roles and divisions, on boards, and at the highest executive levels (the C-suite). Mars Venus Coaching provides corporate trainings that teach skills and strategies that aim at leveraging the differences between the way men and women process information and make decisions.
An example of proactive steps a company can take to engage and retain talented women is the Deloitte Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women (WIN). Started in 1993 at Deloitte U.S., its results tell the story. In 1993, women comprised only 7 percent of partners, but in 2011 there are more than 1,000 women partners, principles and directors, representing 23 percent of management, one of the highest amongst its peers. It has also changed the culture to one of where both men and women can succeed, and positively impacted the Deloitte brand.
Unique components of WIN include a broad range of leadership and development programs. Regional career development programs prepare Deloitte women for advancement at all levels. Local community-based and virtual learning and networking events also contribute to the growth of and opportunities for Deloitte women. To support an inclusive and flexible culture, Deloitte holds gender intelligence coaching workshops for its leadership. The company also shifted from a traditional corporate ladder to a more customized model of career growth, development, and advancement that it dubs the corporate latticeTM. This approach provides a sustainable career-life fit without sacrificing a high level of performance.
In conclusion, we at Mars Venus Coaching believe that closing the gender gap means better business, and companies need to get on board with fostering women advancement to high-echelon positions.
If you or your organization are looking to enhance your performance, Mars Venus Coach Rich Bernstein offers training programs, workshops, and executive coaching services. Click here to learn the benefits of Mars Venus Coaching.