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Are Women Keeping Step with Men to the C- Suite?

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Despite the increase of women in the U.S. Workforce and small improvements in the past decade, research suggests that women are still bumping their heads on the glass ceiling:

  • 5.8% of CEOs in Standard & Poor’s 500 list of companies are women (Catalyst)

  • 15 % of Executive positions of Fortune’s 500 are held by women (Huffington Post)

  • Globally, women hold only 28% of senior positions within organizations and 18% CEO positions (LinkedIn)

There are many variables at play though three factors are prominent:

  • Stereotypes exist about what it means to be a leader; most times its implicitly defined as a white male.

  • Discriminatory practices limit opportunities for women to assume leadership roles in mission-critical positions.

  • There’s a dearth of sponsors who will actively advocate for a woman.

To change the narrative, organizational leaders can implement actions such as conducting cultural audits to identify the barriers to that exist for women and then work to remove them. They can eliminate discriminatory practices including hostile work environments and sexual harassment. Education of the workforce must be impactful to begin to upset the existing male dominated cultures that are the current reality in many organizations. Behavior modification only occurs when leadership takes a decisive stand and demonstrates sustained commitment at the highest levels.

Gap. Coca-Cola and Sales Force has launched programs to advance women. They have Women and Opportunity strategies, leadership initiatives and they address barriers that women face in in the workforce and marketplace by providing women with access to business skills training and mentor connections.

On a more basic level, to advance women there’s got to be a willingness to do so, a commitment to do so, and then follow-through.