According to a study conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org, “Women in the Workplace 2017,” men account for 52 percent of corporate entry-level jobs and women make up 48 percent. But at the manager level, it’s 63 percent men and 37 percent women. With every promotion, the representation of women drops, leading to only one in five C-suite executives being women. This is puzzling since 57 percent of recent college graduates are women.
You might think that women are more likely to leave the workforce, and that’s why there’s a disparity. But the study also showed men and women planned to leave the workforce to focus on family at a similar rate, which was 1 and 2 percent, respectively. So, what is it?
What we do know is that top-performing companies were more likely to promote women to managers compared to average companies. Whether these companies are top-performing because of greater diversity through all levels of employment or their status of being a top-performer allows them to focus on the career advancement of women is debatable. The study did conclude that women were less likely to receive advice from managers and senior leaders on how to advance, which is imperative to moving up the corporate ladder. Employees who received this kind of support reported being promoted in the last two years.
While women are underrepresented at the top, there are some efforts we can make to close the gap. If we band together, we can eliminate gender inequality in the workplace. Some ideas to support women in the workplace include:
Start (Or Join) A Group For Women At Work
National organizations like Lean In Circles have gained popularity (and there are local or regional chapters), but a group-specific to your company will give you the opportunity to connect with other women at work. This opens up a conversation specific to issues that arise in your organization. It also facilitates a mentorship opportunity with junior-level colleagues.
“To the women who have a seat at the table, or who have influence in a male-dominated company, it’s important to recognize the potential impact you can have in bringing other women in your organization or industry to join you at that table and to impact change,” said Anjuli Patel, GQR’s Head of Events and Experiences.
Become A Mentor
Especially if you’re a senior-level employee, take on a woman at your organization who has the potential to rise to the top. You can share your personal experience of working your way up and coach your mentee on how to follow her own career path. It’ll be gratifying knowing your efforts helped tip the scales toward gender equality in the workplace.
Give Honest Feedback
Of course, you want to inspire and praise other female team members, but they also deserve to know the truth. Be honest if there are improvements they can make to take their career to the next level. You’re doing them a disservice if you’re only telling half the story.
Celebrate Your Differences
We’re all women but it doesn’t mean we’re the same. Respect the talents of other women in your company and bolster their reputation within the workplace. A competitive mindset can turn catty. Instead, come together to create a team of women that’s unstoppable. “We need to shift the mindset from believing there are limited spaces for us, as women, to be leaders within our organizations – by celebrating our differences and empowering each other through feedback and mentorship we can all rise to the top,” said Patel.
Collaboration Is Key
Even if you’re in a management position, show the women on your team that you are relatable by jumping in to help if the need arises. Last year was the first year since the 1950s, when Gallup started polling Americans’ preferences about the gender of their boss, that the majority of respondents say their boss’s gender doesn’t matter. Until then, even women preferred a male boss. Instead of leading to match the men around you or how you think you should, be genuine to yourself and treat your team the way you’d want to be treated.
Refer Other Women
Some say the lack of women at the top is a pipeline problem. If there are women you believe in and who can rise to the occasion, refer them. There’s plenty of room for all of us women at the top, so partner with other women to move their career in the right direction.
As a woman, take gender inequality in the workplace seriously. You can make a difference by encouraging women around you at each rung of the ladder – as you climb to the top.