Business World

Thursday 23 March 2017

US boardrooms will take a century to have equality for women

Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

Women are less likely to advance than men in US companies.
Women are less likely to advance than men in US companies.

Women are under-represented in US companies, are less likely to advance than men and face more barriers to reaching senior leadership roles, according to a new report from consultancy giant McKinsey.

The 'Women in the Workplace' study found that at the current speed, it will take more than 100 years for the upper reaches of US corporations to achieve gender parity.

A number of sectors, especially automotive and industrial manufacturing, energy and basic materials, and technology, are unable to attract women for entry-level positions, so women are poorly represented throughout the so-called talent pipeline, McKinsey said.

Around 188 companies and nearly 30,000 employees took part in the study, with the core conclusion that women remain under-represented at every level of the corporate hierarchy.

"Women are still under-represented at every level in the corporate pipeline. Many people assume this is because women are leaving companies at higher rates than men or due to difficulties balancing work and family," the report said.

"However, our analysis tells a more complex story: women face greater barriers to advancement and a steeper path to senior leadership."

The study found that women see a workplace skewed in favour of men. They are almost four times more likely than men to think they have fewer opportunities to advance because of their gender -and are twice as likely to think their gender will make it harder for them to advance in the future, the report said.

Compared with men, women also report that they are consulted less often on important decisions, according to the study.

The report found that "74pc of companies report that gender diversity is a top CEO priority, but the message is not reaching the majority of employees".

It added: "Less than half of workers believe that gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO, and only a third view it as a top priority for their direct manager. Moreover, women are less likely than men to see gender diversity as a priority for their manager and CEO."

The report also found a mismatch in how men approached the issue. Around 70pc think gender diversity is important, but only 12pc believe women have fewer opportunities.

The report said that companies need to make sure women have access to the same opportunities as men, and managers and sponsors have a critical role to play in making this happen. Companies are encouraged to put systems in place so managers have the skills to support women and are rewarded when they do so.

Earlier this year a report by Mercer came to similar conclusions and found that women around the globe are seeing slow progress in gaining gender and pay equality and are under-represented at all levels in the workplace and executive boardrooms.

Although they make up 40pc of the average company's workforce, women represent only 33pc of managers and 26pc of senior managers.

Even fewer, 20pc, have risen to the executive level because companies are slow to build talent pipelines to promote diversity, the Mercer study found.

The report covered 583 organisations representing 3.2 million employees in 42 countries,

The report predicts Latin America is the only region expected to nearly reach equal gender representation in the workforce.

Irish Independent

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