Lean In recently published their new research on gender equality in the workplace which is the largest workplace study that has been conducted so far. The research shows that women are still widely underrepresented in corporate America and the progress is slow despite commitment from companies to gender diversity. They claim there is only one simple reason for this: We cannot solve a problem we don’t understand.
The study shows that many employees believe that women are represented well even though they only see a few women in leadership positions. As a result, many employees (especially men) do not feel the urgency for change or understand the disadvantages women have in the workplace. Some men even feel that commitment to gender equality may disadvantage them. The lack of information and understanding are also true for women of color. Many companies take a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving diversity which does not seem to work for advancing women of color.
According to the study, there are fewer women than men hired at the entry level and the rate of representation declines with every subsequent step. This drop is even more dramatic for women of color. At entry level, 31 percent of employees are white women and 17 percent are women of color. However, in the highest level of employment, only 18 percent are white women and a staggering 3 percent are women of color.
The disparity however is not due to lack of interest by women since they seem to stay at their companies as long as men and ask for promotions at similar rates. Yet, white women receive 7.4% of the promotions while women of color only receive 4.9%. Women of color also report that they feel they have less opportunity to grow more commonly than white women.
Thankfully, the study also has six suggestions to companies who really want to make a commitment towards change. These suggestions include making the hiring,promotions and reviews fair, convincing employees on the value of gender equality and investing in more employee training about gender-biased behaviour. The rest of the study and the solutions can be found here.