Cunningham Swan is pleased to support International Women’s Day 2020. This year’s theme is #EachforEqual, which encourages every individual to challenge stereotypes, fight bias, broaden perceptions, improve situations and celebrate women’s achievement.
Gender inequality is an important issue for both employers and working women. Improving equality is a key focus for many, not only because women have historically been underrepresented in leadership roles but also because many want their workplaces to reflect their individual values. Gender equality also makes good business sense, ensuring that our working environments better reflect the world around us, that diverse perspectives are brought to difficult issues and that, ultimately, our clients are better served.
Despite these benefits, inequality at all levels of seniority persists. McKinsey & Company, a leading consulting agency, recently published Women in the Workplace 2019, a study showing data gathered over the last five years from organizations collectively employing more than 13 million people. The study found that more women are rising to top leadership positions, but that woman remain underrepresented at all levels.
A deeper understanding of the root causes of this underrepresentation is required in order to adequately address the problem. McKinsey & Company found that a primary cause of underrepresentation is not necessarily a “glass ceiling” but rather a “broken rung” on the corporate ladder in the first step up from entry level to manager.
This broken rung causes many women’s careers to stagnate which ultimately results in underrepresentation at higher levels, as there are simply not enough women to promote into these roles. This means that, early in their careers, women are earning less than men even if they have the same qualifications.
Recognizing that barriers to advancement at work occur earlier in a woman’s career path than the “glass ceiling” metaphor implies better equips us all to address gender inequality in the workplace.
McKinsey & Company suggests the following strategies:
- Setting internal goals to focus on promotion of women from entry level positions;
- Ensuring a diverse slate of candidates for manager-level promotions;
- Ensuring evaluators have completed bias training;
- Establishing clear evaluation criteria for promotions; and
- Ensuring women have the tools they need to qualify for a promotion such as leadership training, sponsorship and high-profile assignments.
Every individual can take steps to contribute to greater gender equality more broadly and this remains true at work. Encouraging the development of strategies to ensure women are supported and afforded advancement opportunities at all levels of seniority is an important part of how we can embody #EachforEqual.