Promote and retain talented women

N°258b – Synopsis (8p.) – Diversity and Inclusion
Promote and retain talented women
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Despite recent measures in favor of gender diversity, the fact remains that the proportion of female talent decreases as one moves up the hierarchy. How can we remedy this situation?

In recent years, a growing number of women have been entrusted with the highest level of responsibilities—such as Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook and Christine Lagarde at the IMF. This goes hand in hand with a growing awareness of the strategic dimension of gender diversity, beyond the moral issue of equal opportunity between men and women. For Dan McCarthy, CEO of Frontier Communication, gender diversity supports a range of leadership styles invaluable to making better decisions. William P. Lauder, executive chairman of Estée Lauder, emphasizes two challenges beyond the ethical aspect: better recognition of available talent and better representativeness of the customer base. Henceforth, for the large majority, ensuring that women have access to the same responsibilities as men has become obvious and necessary. The era of the glass ceiling thus seems to have truly ended, if we go by companies’ discourse and displayed mentality.

The numbers, however, paint a much less favorable picture. Women represent 55% of graduates in higher education and account for 44% of OECD jobs. Yet, on average, they account for only 21% of senior managers and 17% of executive committee members. Figures published by the McKinsey consulting firm show that women remain underrepresented at all levels of management and that the situation gets worse as one moves up the hierarchy. Despite measures taken in favor of gender diversity by many companies in recent years—female mentoring programs, creation of mutual support networks, overhauling of talent management processes—, the situation continues to evolve at a slow pace.

When taking stock of the past years, what types of measures have had the most impact on the advancement of gender diversity? What are the limits of existing systems? How could they be improved? What obstacles—particularly cultural—continue to exist? And, most importantly, how can you accelerate the transformation within your own business?

In this synopsis:
- Men and women: What prejudices are still at work?
- Combat the loss of talented women
- Communicate better in mixed-gender teams

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