Women getting promotions comparable to men but at a price: report

By Faiza Amin

A recently released report reveals women are asking for raises and promotions at rates comparable to their male counterparts, however, it comes with a price.

The Women in the Workplace 2017 report surveyed over 70,000 employees and their experiences with gender, opportunity, career and work life issues. The authors of the survey, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, call this “the largest study of its kind”, as 222 companies employing over 12-million people submitted data and participated in the report.

Though the study reveals women of all colours are just as likely as men to ask for raises and promotions, they are also more likely to pay a “social penalty.” Women are more likely to be told they are intimidating, too aggressive or bossy.

The findings also revealed on average women are 18 per cent less likely to be promoted early on in their career, compared to their male peers.

“At every subsequent step, the representation of women further declines, and women of colour face an even more dramatic drop-off at senior levels,” the report reads.

“Even in industries where there’s a lot of women in lower ranks, the higher you go, you end up with a male leadership,” said Stephania Varalli, co-CEO at Women of Influence. “If it’s only men at the top, without their action and cooperation and them trying to solve a problem, we’re never going to get anywhere.”

Though there’s been progress in recent years, there’s still a wage gap that exists in the workplace. Varalli says there aren’t only gender differences, but race plays a role and that’s sometimes influenced by biases.

The results show women of colour face more obstacles as they advance in their careers, receiving less support from upper management and fewer promotions.

“Overall, two patterns are clear: compared to white women, things are worse for women of color, and they are particularly difficult for black women,” the report said.

“People don’t really recognize that they have those biases within them, so they act a certain way thinking they’re being fair. Really what they’re doing is picking people that look like them and moving them up in the organization,” said Varalli.


Women are less likely to think they have an opportunity to adance

– 37 per cent of women say they believe gender play a role in missing out on a raise, promotion or chance to get ahead, compared to 8 per cent of men.

– 39 per cent of women believe gender makes it harder to get a raise, promotion or an advancement. While only 15 per cent of men held that same belief.

– 57 per cent of women and 62 per cent of men say they have same equal opportunity for growth as their peers though.

Respondents on their companies treating people fairly

– Compared to 47 per cent of male respondents, 39 per cent of women say the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees

– 40 per cent of women and 48 per cent of  men believe promotions at their company is based on criteria that’s fair and objective.

The study also advises companies to understand and address the gender and racial gaps in the work place.

“A Road Map to Gender Equality”

The authors say the companies need a plan towards supporting and advancing women in the work place, and recommend organizations to do the following:

• Make a compelling case for gender diversity

• Invest in more employee training

• Give managers the means to drive change

• Ensure that hiring, promotions, and reviews are fair

• Give employees the flexibility to fit work into their lives

• Focus on accountability and results

Other tips: organizations urged to invest more resources in more employee training, provide a work-life balance for workers, allow for managers to play a more critical role in gender diversity efforts, and make more of an effort to ensure hiring, promotions and reviews are fair.

“You really need to have leadership on board, in order to be able to move the needle, and it can’t be just seen as a women’s equality problem,” said Vararalli. “It has to be seen as an issue that impacts everybody, your bottom line, and your ability to innovate. This is something that can really change our economy for the better, if you can figure out how to get everyone involved.”

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