Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, an annual celebration that honours the achievements of women and seeks to shine a light on how we can continue to reach equity and inclusion for women-identified people.
According to a new global study “Women in leadership: Why perception outpaces the pipeline—and what to do about it” from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) and Chief.com, fewer than half (45%) of organizations surveyed report they have made advancing more women into leadership roles a top, formal business priority.
The study of 2,500 organizations in 12 countries and 10 industries found a small increase in the number of women at the C-suite and Board level (now 12% for both), and an increase to 40% representation of women in junior professional/specialist roles (37% in 2021). However, the pipeline for top leadership positions still hasn’t recovered to pre-pandemic levels – 14% representation of women in senior vice president roles (18% in 2019) and 16% in vice president roles (19% in 2019).
And, just a few days ago, Forbes reported that, despite attempts to narrow the gap, women in 2022 still earned 17% less than men on average, particularly for women as they age.
We know that diversity in leadership drives business results. Yet women’s advancement in the workplace remains profoundly imbalanced. So what can be done? Here are three foundational strategies.
1. Dig Deeper
Creating a DEIB strategy is obviously a much-needed first step. However, to go beyond merely ticking the boxes, organizations need to take the time to fully evaluate whether future women leaders have the same access as men do to the opportunities for exposure and advancement that will propel them to top roles. Recognizing unconscious biases is one of the first steps leaders can take in promoting equity among their teams. In 2023, it’s still necessary to cultivate sponsorship for marginalized groups, which leads us to the next key strategy…
2. Create Visibility
To advance inclusion, organizations must create a line of sight between senior leaders and a diverse group of high-potential leaders. In short, you need to go beyond awareness training. This is just one of the areas where group coaching can be such a springboard advancing women and other DEIB efforts. Group coaching programs, like our Catalyst program, gives senior leaders a chance to see high-potential leaders in action in a group coaching setting. Through strong sponsorship relationships, senior leaders can get beyond any inherent biases that they may not even realize they hold and instead see the potential of individuals who might have been off their radar. It’s an extremely effective way to forge new, cross-functional networks and help women and diverse talent rise through the ranks.
2. Put an End to the Plateau
How many times have we seen smart, super-talented, highly experienced professional women languishing in middle management roles? Typically, that’s the point where women’s careers often plateau. Sometimes it’s due to being “invisible” as senior male leaders sponsor young male proteges, or it can be due to the fact that it’s around this time that some women choose to have families. While women return to work after maternity leave, they often report that their professional networks had disintegrated during their time away. Here again, this is where group coaching can be a game-changer by developing women’s leadership skills, providing a network of peers as well as spotlighting their abilities.
If you’re curious about how The Roundtable can help your organization develop an inclusive culture where leaders can support each other through coaching and mentoring, let’s start a conversation. Be sure to download our L&D Trends 2023 to see more trends in the year ahead.