by Kristi Faulkner
Last week, McKinsey & Company released “Women in the Workplace,” a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America today. Over 30,000 professionals participated from a range of industries that include tech, retail, finance, healthcare, and media. Here are the most interesting conclusions:
1. Women are more loyal employees than men.
Compared to their male colleagues, SVP-level women are 20% less likely to leave, and women in C-suite are about half as likely to leave their companies for other employment.
2. Women are underrepresented at every level in the career pipeline, with the greatest disparity in senior leadership.
Corporate America lacks gender equality beyond the entry level, especially at the top, which averages only 17% women. But how does the media business fare? A quick look at the executive tier of the major holding companies reveals just 3 of 16 top executives at IPG are women; 3 of 14 at Omnicom; and according to the annual report of WPP-owned agencies, only 7 of their 31 chiefs are women. Unfortunately, these figures indicate our industry is right in line with the rest of the nation.
3. Nothing will change until CEOs actively demonstrate a commitment to gender diversity, and hold their managers accountable, too. 74% of companies report that gender diversity is a top CEO priority, but only 37% of women employees of those companies believe that to be true. (49% of men aren’t convinced, either.) And only 40% of companies hold managers accountable to gender-diversity metrics.
4. Employees who are mothers have even greater ambitions than their peers.There’s no reason to put women on the “mommy track.” Mothers are 15% more interested in being a top executive than women without children.
5. Companies can boost women’s advancement by offering them mentors and sponsors.
The fact is, women face greater barriers to advancement than men, including unconscious bias when it comes to promotions. Twice as many men as women say that senior leaders helped them advance. Both men and women agree that sponsorship is vital to success but women have less access.
6. Gender diversity has to be as important to men as it is to women.
70% of men think gender diversity is important, yet only 1 in 9 men believe that women have fewer opportunities than they do.
7. Women are as competitive as men, but don't believe their work is rewarded.
In spite of the fact that more women than men graduate college, and outperform their male peers in all subjects, the study concludes that women are still challenged to advance and achieve gender equality in corporate America. Two-thirds of women don’t think their companies are meritocracies. And, according to McKinsey’s data, the guys agree.
Overall, only 28% of senior level women report being very happy with their careers. Unconscious gender biases are likely driving the dissatisfaction. This fact is doubly disappointing to those of us working in an industry who’s main purpose is to get people to buy stuff (and by people, I mean women, because they buy the most stuff). It makes no economic sense for any company to hold a bias towards the very audience they must attract.