The lack of women at the top of corporate America is well known. Despite a plethora of leadership development programs and initiatives, the numbers haven’t changed much. Women represent 58% of the workforce, but only 5% of CEOs and 24% of C-suite level positions at Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies. Why has change been so slow and what can be done about it? A new study out this week aims to answer exactly that question.
The study highlights 4 key factors:
- awareness/knowledge by women of what’s needed to move up and what opportunities exist
- ability to build relationship capital
- confidence in oneself and willingness to take risks
- corporate cultures that “walk the talk” of accountability in creating opportunities for women
None of these factors are technical or skills driven. None have to do with education, ability or intellect. These factors begin impacting a women’s career very early on, compounding the problem. All four factors are, at their core, about internal, long-standing bias. That’s both good and bad. It means that the ability to change the current situation already exists and the power to do so is held by each of us. It also means it’s an uphill battle that requires everyone, no matter where they are in their company, to actively, intentionally, focus on changing the status quo. Studies such as this are critical – they put into stark, impossible to ignore numbers the current lay of the land. But studies themselves do not enact change. That depends on you. We believe that opening the conversation around work and parenting – and making that a conversation between all working parents – is one way to start enabling that change. What have you seen at your office that is working and what have you seen that isn’t?