Gender Diversity in the Workplace
The Gender Gap and Gender Diversity at Work
The gender gap is defined broadly as unequal access to benefits and opportunities between men and women in society. In terms of the workplace, people focus on the gaps between pay, promotions, and benefits that are accrued solely based on gender.
Gender diversity at work is an area that is affected by the gender gap in our society, often preventing women from promotions to managerial positions. Companies that have strong gender diversity have both women and men represented throughout all levels of the company, from entry-level roles through C-suite.
The Benefits of Gender Diversity in the Workplace
A gender-balanced workforce adds tremendous value to a business’ bottom line. Companies with more women in management positions experience lower market volatility and increased productivity. C-suites with greater gender parity have higher profitability and return on equity while companies with more diverse and gender-balanced boards generate higher market returns.
Despite these and other benefits, a gender-balanced workforce is not the norm today. Women are underrepresented at every level of an organization and for every 100 women promoted to manager, 130 men are promoted. Although women enter the workforce at rates similar to those of men, their upward path often deviates right at the beginning, reducing gender diversity in the workplace in managerial positions. This under-promotion of women early in their careers greatly impacts the pipeline of women available for middle and senior management positions, which significantly affects the gender gap at higher organizational levels. If women were promoted at a rate equal to that of their male peers, solely at the entry level, the number of women at the senior vice president level and C-suite level would more than double, while also increasing gender diversity in the workplace at all levels.
Gender Diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Fields
Lack of gender balance is most pronounced in STEM fields where 50% of women exit their field and move to non-STEM occupations within the first 12 years of their career. With less than 30% of women graduating into STEM fields, the pressure for companies to find professional women to achieve gender balance is even more acute.
The good news is that 78% of large organizations are actively seeking to hire more women, especially into more experienced and senior positions. At the same time, women are more empowered to ask for flexible work arrangements, better work-life balance and a clear understanding of how women are supported and advanced within an organization. 61% of women look at the diversity of an employer’s leadership team when making career decisions.
Organizations that respond to the call for gender balance by innovating the way they recruit, employ and advance women at all stages of the corporate pipeline will radically influence our economy, our society and the future of work in America.
Sources: PWC Winning the Fight for Female Talent, March 2017; Women in the Workplace 2016, McKinsey & Co. World Economic Forum, Women and Work 2016; Global Gender Gap, World Economic Forum 2016; FactSet, ASSET4, Morgan Stanley Research; Gallup State of American Manager; Peterson Institute Is Gender Diversity Profitable? Evidence from a Global Survey; The CS Gender 3000: Women in Senior Management.
“Gender diversity can improve team decision making and improve innovation capabilities for development of new products or services. It can also create alignment with diverse customer bases and, thus, open untapped business opportunities.”
— Jessica Alsford, Head of SRI Research