Some of the key take home messages from the McKinsey & Company and Lean in report into women in the workplace 

five people putting their hands together in a show of teamwork

Last week, McKinsey&Company and Lean In released their annual report into gender equality in the workplace. The report has been going since 2015 and is the largest of its kind in America. This year alone, 279 companies got involved, with their collective amount of employees sitting at around 13 million. On top of that, 64,000 individual employees were surveyed about their experiences in the workplace. 

The findings were really interesting- here are some of the key takeaways from the report :

To achieve equality, companies must turn good intentions into concrete action

While the study found that most companies WANT gender equality, and were prepared to advocate for it in their workplace, not many had managed to implement tangible, practical changes in order to advance gender equality for their employees. Things like setting targets and holding their managers and leaders to account were two recommendations for how workplaces could further advance gender equality.

There has been little progress since the study began

Since 2015, when the first study was published, America’s workforce has made barely any progress. Women still remain the most underrepresented group at every level- with women of colour being the smallest minority within that group. Only one in five c-suite leaders is a woman, and only one in 25 is a woman of colour.

Attrition is not the problem

Women and men left their companies for other opportunities at the same rate- 15%. Of those who left, 81% of women and 82% of men indicated that they were leaving to pursue another job or professional opportunity.

Women are left behind from the get-go

It is becoming more evident that women are disadvantaged in the workplace from the get-go. The hiring and promotion process is where the biggest opportunity lies for more women to enter, and move up in the workplace, creating a pipeline for more women in the future. However, unconscious biases mean that women find it harder to get into the workforce and once they are there, find it harder to move up. AirBnB worked with Stanford University’s Women’s Leadership Lab to remove bias from their performance evaluation questions and change how they conduct their interviews, and saw a big difference in the talent they were hiring and promoting.

It’s an uneven playing field

The study found that women simply do not have access to an even playing field in the workplace. They have less access to management and senior leaders, are less likely to receive support from their managers and they are more likely to face every day discrimination (although, it should be noted that the men who participated in the survey also reported and gave examples of discrimination in the workplace, so it sounds like everyone needs to be aware of this.)

Women are also more likely to experience sexual harassment in the workplace, and while many of their workplaces have policies saying that the behaviour will not be tolerated, most women believe that they fail to implement the policies effectively.

If you want to read more, the report can be found here.


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