This week’s study on women and tech and the recent discussion of the lack of diversity in advertising make it clear that no companies have taken a full leadership position in diversifying ranks. While there’s certainly not parity, there is sufficient talent available, based on the McKinsey and LeanIn study, published in the Wall Street Journal this week.
What’s this mean? If any company wants to take a leadership position, that company can be a market leader, put their money behind promises of diversity and inclusion.
So far all we’ve seen are quick patchwork solutions proffered by others, like John Greathouse, a California-based venture capitalist, who suggested in a Wall Street Journal article that women in tech essentially hide their gender online. Greenhouse ended up apologizing for his article the day after publication, acknowledging he “told women to endure the gender bias problem rather than acting to fix the problem.”
Greenhouse is right – gender bias is a very real issue. Critics, however, are also right when they say that he didn’t provide any ways to actually counter the problem.
As an executive search firm filling positions in the C-suite, we think there’s clear evidence it shouldn’t take 100 years to reach gender parity in the C-suite, as some studies have said. The talent is there; unfortunately, most companies aren’t utilizing what’s right in front of them. LeanIn/McKinsey’s study found “corporate America promotes men at 30% higher rates than women during their early career stages, and that entry-level women are significantly more likely than men to have spent five or more years in the same role.”
While women make up nearly half (46%) of entry-level positions, and 37% of managerial and 33% of director positions, the numbers continue to drop the higher the position. Only 29% of vice presidents are women and only 24% are senior vice presidents. By the time we’re in the C-suite, only 19% are women.
With a strong and growing bench of talent, leading companies should seize this data and use it to hold themselves accountable. If in ten years, it seems companies haven’t moved the flag significantly closer toward parity, then it’s clear current executives are just tossing out buzzwords instead of solutions.
“It’s no secret that female leadership, or even representation, is severely lacking when it comes to the tech space. Diversity at the senior-most levels is top of mind for us and our clients, and we partner with organizations to ensure they have a talented, diverse leadership team to promote this approach to the rest of the organization,” says Alison Hunter, Vice President of Raines International. “It’s an issue that needs to be attacked from both the top and the bottom, and there is a lot of work left to do.”