In response to the 2018 Mckinsey Women in the Workplace Report: In what is widely considered the primary barometer for the state of gender equity in the workforce, McKinsey’s annual report of gender parity in the workplace summarizes a stagnation in gender parity that is concerning but also raises some insight into potential solutions through inclusive culture transformation.
The report: pooling from 279 companies employing more than 13 million people, and features data compiled from their organizations. Like past reports, we notice a continuing trend of women being under-represented in the workforce and continually squeezed out of the workplace as they move higher up the corporate ladder. Women still make up the majority of college grads and leave the workforce at the same rate as men, highlighting that another year has gone by with seemingly the same dynamics at play that continue to hold women back and thus perpetuate the bigger issue of gender parity as a whole. Tired of watching another year go by with the same story unfolding? ME TOO.
Here are a few takeaways:
- The root of the problem is culture.
- Inclusion is the key to sustainable change
- Leadership is the catalyst
The root of the problem is culture.
While the still-prevalent accounts of sexual harassment are concerning, appalling and worthy of mention, for the sake of this article, I would like to discuss the phenomenon of microaggressions and the “only” experience that highlight the nuanced complexities of the cultural roots behind gender workplace inequality. Being the “Only” woman in a room is an occurrence experienced by one in five professional women and results in the higher likelihood of a woman experiencing, microaggressions, disengagement or worse, sexual harassment. Microaggressions can be described as experiencing a demeaning comment, having to provide more evidence of one’s competence, or being mistaken for someone much more junior. These experiences are products of a workplace culture that fosters an environment that perpetuates the exclusion of female workers throughout their professional life cycle.
Inclusion is the key to sustainable change
Women are far more likely to experience microaggressions than men. This is only augmented by women who are “Onlys” and all the above result in women being forced out of the workforce pipeline through blatant exclusion in the form of lower promotion rates, or indirectly in the form of attrition because of disengagement. As a result, the issue of female under-representation and exclusion becomes a compounded snowballing effect. Inclusion needs to be the key to changing the focus of our current corporate workplace culture. Through training, gender advocacy and a general shift in workplace values, we can create a workplace that invites, empowers and advances female talent while decreasing the tolerance of, and likelihood for microaggressions, being an “Only” and overall female exclusion.
Leadership is the catalyst
Leadership is the catalyst for instilling and enforcing an inclusive culture. Buy-in for inclusion and intolerance for exclusion must come from the top and perpetuate all the way down to the entry-level. Leadership is also the key component to fostering inclusion through engagement and advancement. Currently, women are less likely to see their work featured by their managers (at every stage of the employee life cycle) and are far less likely gain valuable access to senior leadership both of which are primary factors in an employee’s ability to advance within a company, and subsequently not leave. Under an umbrella of inclusion, leadership practices are the catalyst for the culture change the current corporate workforce needs if it is to achieve the gender equity that is not only fair but extremely necessary and overdue.
Women are excluded through a workplace culture that perpetuates inequality and is either purposefully, or inadvertently, upheld by workplace leadership figures from the management level all the way to the C-suite levels. The opportunity for change is there and the rewards for change are prevalent. The question is: who will be the ones to seize it?
How is Lead Inclusively working to change and leverage personnel in leadership to the benefit of desired D&I transformation?
Leadership and culture are complex, yet vital, components necessary to effectively harness inclusion to the benefit of company innovation and productivity. Increasingly, larger companies are losing out on top talent, and subsequent innovation, to more agile companies who are more flexible and capable of implementing culture change when needed. See some ways how larger, less agile, companies are effectively delivering key learning and culture change at scale.
Also, feel free to find us on LinkedIn and Facebook. We are a small team but we always find time to share content that is relevant to the most important D&I topics, and valuable towards inspiring dialogue to guide us all towards viable solutions. We ultimately are all Champions of Change and proponents of equity to all (Women and Men alike). Every interaction we can all share together is one more valuable step towards action and tangible change that makes our world fair and equitable for all.