Gender Diversity in the C-Suite
As the number of women participating in the workforce grows, their potential influence on business is becoming ever more important. Seventy-two percent of respondents to a recent McKinsey survey believe there is a direct connection between a company’s gender diversity and its financial success. Yet, companies have not so far successfully bridged the gap between men and women in the top levels of management.
At companies where gender diversity is higher on the strategic agenda and more related policies are implemented, executives say that company leadership is also the most diverse. Between respondents at companies that include gender diversity as a top-three agenda item and those at all companies, there is a 32 percentage-point difference between the shares who say women fill more than 15% of their C-level positions.
The degree of support from CEOs and other top managers is another important factor influencing a company’s performance on diversity, respondents say, so it is notable that few companies’ top management teams currently monitor relevant programs.
Where diversity is a higher priority, executives also report a higher share of women in their senior ranks.
At companies where gender diversity is a top-three agenda item, for example, 87% of respondents report that more than 15% of their C-level executives are women; only 64% of those whose companies rate diversity as a top-10 item, and 55% of all respondents, say the same. There is also some geographic variability: Respondents in Asia-Pacific and developing markets are more likely to say that gender diversity is a top-10 agenda item for their companies (35% and 34%, respectively) than those in other regions. In Latin America, just 21% of respondents say their companies’ agendas include gender diversity as a top-10 item, with 27% of those in Europe and 28% of those in North America also saying so.
Source: McKinsey Quarterly, October 21, 2010
What are the implications of this? In order to lead significant change toward character-based leadership where employees are valued and respected, and all are considered equal parts of the team, we need more women in upper levels of management. Women bring softer skills to the workplace and when this is combined with the willingness to interrogate reality, improve on the company’s social responsibility, and the openness to having powerful and open conversation, companies will see more success.
I would like to see more studies that show the correlation between women in upper management and the financial success of the business. We know intuitively that women bring a broader dimension to the board room when they are allowed to lead authentically. Often, however, women are required to take on a role that resembles male-dominated thinking in order to receive the promotions through the management ranks. (Glass Ceiling Based on Caring) My experience in today’s corporate environment is that if there are not studies that can prove the concept and/or pressure from government or peers, nothing will be done. It remains a power struggle based on competition and connections.
I am deeply interested in hearing from thought leaders around the world: What do you think we need to do to move toward authentic and diverse leadership in our companies and in government?
Georgia Feiste, owner of Collaborative Transitions Coaching, Inc., located in Lincoln, NE, is a personal growth and leadership transition coach, writer, and workshop facilitator. She is also a Usui Reiki Master. Georgia specializes in career, business and personal life transitions for people seeking change in their life. Her passion is success grounded in purpose and passion, standards of integrity and priorities in life. You can also find her on her websites http://www.collaborativetransitions.com, http://www.rainbowbridgecoach.com , and http://www.georgiafeiste.com. Georgia can be reached at (402) 304-1902 or you can schedule a 30 minute consultation via Automated Appointment.