- While recent data shows that employers are making progress on gender equity, women remain underrepresented at every level, according to a report from LeanIn.org and McKinsey. And it's not the "glass ceiling" that's blocking most of the progress: "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."
- In Women in the Workplace 2019, the researchers said that for every 100 men promoted and hired to manager, only 72 women are promoted and hired. "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.
- To fix this problem, the report recommended that employers: set a goal for getting more women into first-level management; require diverse slates for hiring and promotions; put evaluators through unconscious bias training; establish clear evaluation criteria; and put more women in line for the step up to manager.
McKinsey and LeanIn.org's findings agree with other studies that show female representation is increasing at top levels, albeit slowly.
And its recommendation that employers work to address a "broken rung" to management echos what others have said about diversity and inclusion generally. All employees need an opportunity to move up the ranks, GoDaddy's then-VP of global engagement and inclusion, Katee Van Horn, previously told HR Dive. Similar to McKinsey's tips, GoDaddy worked to standardize performance criteria and adopted a practice called "promotion flagging." Essentially, the process notifies managers at certain intervals and asks them whether an employee is ready for a promotion and, if not, what feedback has been offered. Van Horn said the programs significantly improved promotion rates for women at the company, without affecting rates for men.
Buy-in from leadership for such initiatives will be key, as it will be for the culture of inclusion HR will need to create, too. "Hiring diverse candidates won’t help if the company culture isn’t shaped to support them," Mark Lobosco, VP of talent solutions at LinkedIn, told HR Dive for an earlier article.
Correction: This story has been updated to clarify the authors of the report.