In 2019, we experienced a seismic shift. For the first time, women surpassed men, making up 50.2% of the college-educated labor force, up from 45.1% in 2000 according to the Pew Research Center. While this number is positive to be sure, what’s troubling is women’s advancement in the workplace is stagnant or simply stalling at every step along the way.
Yet even with degrees, women are stuck on the sidelines willing, capable and frankly needed to take on advanced roles that lead to management, directors, vice-presidents, and eventually the c-suite and boardroom. The challenge is complex, as McKinsey discovered in their annual Women in the Workplace 2021 study, the “broken rung” is holding women back. The initial step up to manager is the first place the system fails us, “for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 86 women are promoted.” And women of color are more greatly impacted at every level. Until we can figure out how to move more women into management roles the pipeline will continue to be unbalanced. As leaders, we need to ask ourselves what more can we do?
First off, it’s important as leaders for us to recognize why we tend to look at advancing men over women, what opportunities are given to whom, and how we can support the development of our teams equally to balance the scales. Women are fundamentally different, but what makes us different also makes us extremely valuable to lead and help drive business results.
Here are some ways leaders can step up to support women on their teams, and help them achieve the career they deserve: