The September issue of the Harvard Business Review has a number of very interesting articles on women in the workplace. There is no way this blog can do justice to all the material but it is well worth taking the time to read the issue from cover to cover. Included is an interesting set of data that may be worth taking some extra time to ponder.
McKinsey did a survey of 60 major corporations and noted that women made up 53% of new hires, 40% of managers, 35% of directors, 27% of VPs and only 19% of executives in the C-Suite? Why? This seems to be taking way too long to equalize out.
A recent Catalyst study looked at high potential hires from business schools and noted that on average men’s projects were twice as big as women’s and had three times as many staff members. Men were more likely to get budgets greater than $10 million, have actual P&L responsibility and have projects that garnered attention from the C-Suite. It seems women are put at a disadvantage even though both men and women were viewed as having the potential. Why?
Women in sales earn only roughly 2/3rd of what men earn according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This is noted as strange as sales income was always viewed as being less biased. It turns out a Wharton study, looking at two large stockbrokerages, showed women were given accounts with less potential, denied support staff and had fewer mentors and other amenities to help them perform better. Why?
This lack of promotion is especially perplexing since consultants Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman analyzed 360-degree leadership effectiveness evaluations of 7,280 executives and revealed that at every management level the women were rated higher than men. It is also interesting that the higher the leadership level the bigger the gap. Women were rated higher in 12 of the 16 traits that were shown over a 30 year period as the most important to leadership success. Again, why would this be? Is it because only the very best of the best are getting promoted?
Women with children, when matched in a stringent way with those without children, going for the same job were significantly less likely to be hired. If they were hired, their starting salary was $11,000 less than women without children. Men with children were not penalized in any way. The same researchers also noted that female reviewers, but not male reviewers, judged women with children as less likable than men or childless women and this also led to fewer offers and less money. How can this be explained without noting bias?
I guess we could go on and on but I think the point has been made. Something just doesn’t seem right. Do we really have the best possible people leading our organizations? Are shareholders being cheated by this bias? Are colleagues in these organizations having their careers hurt by having less than the best possible leaders? It certainly is worth taking the time to consider. Again, how long will it take to get this right?