Women are a growing presence in the business world, and a positive one, as research shows. But they remain one of the greatest untapped resources available to business, accounting for less than a quarter of management positions globally.
It’s one thing to hire more women. It’s another to foster systems and organizational cultures that include women’s thinking, champion their contributions, and connect them powerfully to their peers.
More than half of all women participate in the labor force.
The rapid rise in the number of women who work outside the home is one of most significant business developments of the second half of the 20th century. In fact, women now occupy over 50% of all jobs in the U.S., outnumbering men in a trend that’s unlikely to reverse. As they do, they bring a diversity of experience and thinking that business needs if we’re to solve the complex problems we now face.
But we’re a long way still from fully including and encouraging women at work. In U.S. business schools—training ground for future managers and executives—women earn close to 50% of graduate degrees awarded. Yet as of 2017, fewer than 5% of S&P 500 companies had a woman as CEO.
How can business develop more women as leaders? What systems have to change? What attitudes and unconscious biases should be named and addressed? Starting in childhood, how do we identify and nurture the talents of girls so that they believe “I can” and “I will”? And once women have careers underway, how do we help them continue to navigate the complexities of competing and moving up the ladder? What resources and networks do they need to fully realize their potential?
A paradigm shift is needed and is underway. But until women have an equal seat at the table . . . every table . . . there is much more to do.
BLS Reports: “Women in the Labor Force: A databook,” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Report 1084), Dec. 2019: https://www.bls.gov/opub/reports/womens-databook/2019/.
Jack Kelly, “Women Now Hold More Jobs Than Men in the U.S. Workforce,” Forbes, Jan. 13, 2020: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jackkelly/2020/01/13/women-now-hold-more-jobs-than-men/#3f7169458f8a.
National Center for Education Statistics, “Degrees in business conferred by postsecondary institutions, by level of degree and six of student: selected years, 1955-56 through 2013-14: https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d15/tables/dt15_325.25.asp
Catalyst, Pyramid: Women in S&P 500 Companies (January 15, 2020): https://www.catalyst.org/research/women-in-sp-500-companies/