Tuesday, May 29, 2012

McKinsey on Women in the Workplace

McKinsey has recently published its updated research on the advancement of women in the workplace, particularly large for-profit corporations. Among the  key findings are that two types of structures that advance women successfully have emerged in practice: either a lot of women start (more than 50%) and so more are available to move up, or women are retained at the same rate as men, and so are available to move up. In social services work, the first scenario is probably more common than the second, though that may be changing in recent years.

And what happens in the higher echelons? Again, McKinsey is reporting on what its research among large for-profit corporations found: "many women opt to take staff roles, get stuck in middle management, or leave their organization without giving the company a chance to address their concerns."

Sound familiar? It does to me. And in fact the report identified some familiar barriers:

* structural obstacles (ie, few women at the top)
* lifestyle choices (women reported being both the primary caregiver and the primary breadwinner much more often than men did)
* institutional culture and individual behavior (women don't knock on doors asking for advice the way men do; men will assume that a pregnant woman will not want to move to take up a new position)

And the report offers some specific suggestions, including hands-on leadership, diversity leadership with the clot to make things happen, and robust talent management - all of which can (and often are) be done by not-for profits.

It's an interesting look at an important picture. You can get a pdf of the full report here. (McKinsey reports are free if you sign up.)

Update: This post was edited for clarity.

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