- When men leave senior management positions, 75% of those openings are filled by men, whereas when a woman leaves a senior management role, there is a nearly even split between male and female successors, according to a study by Visier published Oct. 12.
- While the "glass ceiling" may still be intact, Visier found that women are more frequently replacing men in lower- and middle-management positions. From 2017-2019, women replaced men in these roles 28% of the time. In 2020, 35% were replaced by women.
- "While our key finding shows some progress towards gender equality," the report said, "true progress means women shouldn’t only be replacing other women in leadership roles — we need to see an increase in women replacing males in upper management as well."
An increase in women taking on early manager positions is a good sign for gender equity in leadership, as a McKinsey study from last year found that "the biggest obstacle that women face is much earlier in the pipeline, at the first step up to manager," the report said. "Fixing this 'broken rung' is the key to achieving parity."
The McKinsey researchers said that 72 women are promoted and hired to manager for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager. "This early inequality has a long-term impact on the talent pipeline [because] there are significantly fewer women to hire or promote to senior managers," the report notes.
Achieving gender parity may take up to 100 years, according to a December 2019 study by the World Economic Forum. More recent research from Forrester said that top employers have "consistently failed" to prioritize issues around diversity and inclusion. Before the pandemic, just 42% of respondents in a Mercer survey said their organizations had a dedicated plan for reaching gender equality.
The pandemic has the potential to worsen the gender gap, some say, because of the heightened cultural burden placed on women for childcare and the overwhelming evidence that women are leaving the workforce. Some employers are hoping to combat these departures by offering increased flexibility or new benefits such as extra time off, childcare reimbursement or programming for children.
Business leaders looking to improve gender equity will need to work on addressing culture and barriers to inclusion, according to research from Accenture in partnership with Girls Who Code. The report made five recommendations: institute parental leave; set targets for diversity in leadership; provide support such as mentors and resource networks; reward employees for creativity and innovation; and schedule inclusive networking events. Mercer also has recommended linking executive pay to D&I goals.
REI and Unilever topped a recent Forbes ranking of top workplaces for women, following a survey conducted in partnership with Statista that considered factors such as culture and development opportunity while also asking about discrimination, pay equity and parental leave.