Women go from 'pet to threat' as they gain confidence on the job, Aon study shows
- A new Aon blog post describes how organizations, largely led by white male executives, support women in the learning and development stages of their jobs until they become more competent and self-assured. The syndrome is called "pet to threat" and usually kicks in after the second year on the job, when most people — men and women — have a better handle on their skills and knowledge.
- A global Aon survey found that engagement for women dropped by 13% in the first two years after hire, compared with 9% for men; the percentage of feeling fairly paid dropped by 16% for women, versus 10% for men; and the likelihood of staying on the job dropped by 12% for women, but only 4% for men in year two.
- Among other key findings: women are less likely to feel their employers will take action on unfairness in the workplace (57%) than men (62%); women are less likely to trust their bosses (61%) than men (66%); and women are more likely to feel less challenged at work (66%) than men (71%).
This study isn't alone in assuming inequality is due to treatment, not behavior. The results from another study led Harvard Business Review (HBR) to conclude that bias is responsible for gender inequality, rather than a mismatching of skills or actions. Aon's statistics also revealed that bias often is at the root of inequality based on both race and gender, as well.
HR can work with managers to understand and avoid biased judgments in hiring and promoting employees who are of a different gender, race, ethnicity or other protected category. Lower expectations on the part of managers for dissimilar employees impedes their growth and advancement.
Some CEOs have begun to notice the issue and have sought to create change within their organizations from the top down. PwC CEO Tim Ryan is leading a movement to get fellow CEOs to pledge their commitment to diversity and inclusiveness. So far, 330 CEOs across the U.S. have signed up for the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion program. Ryan wants more company heads to take the pledge.