Boston — Aug. 14
Most executives see a connection between diversity and corporate success. Fully 85 percent of leading organizations view gender diversity as a top priority relative to other diversity issues. However, only about one in five companies have a targeted recruiting strategy for female talent, and only one in four offer job-sharing opportunities in management positions. Although now-widespread measures such as women’s networks, mentorship programs and diversity training for managers are steps in the right direction, they alone will not turn gender diversity into a competitive advantage.
This is the central finding of the study "Shattering the Glass Ceiling: An Analytical Approach to Advancing Women into Leadership Roles" by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), which surveyed some 100 HR managers in 44 international companies. The study highlights the largest institutional and personal barriers preventing women from achieving leadership positions, highlights best-practice examples and presents a systematic approach to promoting women in management.
The study shows that the majority of the companies analyzed view diversity management in the context of ethical and social aspects. However, adding a strategic approach can help shorten innovation cycles and enable companies to address new markets and customers.
The greatest challenge for organizations lies not in a lack of awareness about the diversity topic, but rather in an inability to appropriately identify a company’s own glass ceiling. “The lack of women in leadership positions is primarily a problem of internal talent management; women receive considerably fewer promotions,” said Rainer Strack, senior partner and global leader of the HR topic at BCG.
The barriers most frequently cited by respondents were the poor management of leadership development for women, the culture of office presence, the difficulty of reconciling family and career, the lack of programs for women who leave and later rejoin the workforce and male-oriented selection criteria in promotions.
In all industries, companies are implementing a variety of measures to increase workforce diversity. Since most of these measures are not grounded in quantitative criteria, however, targeted management remains elusive. Only 35 percent of the companies analyzed included diversity in their managers’ target agreements, and only one in five offered managers financial incentives for achieving diversity targets.