Portion of women in management scarcely improves in decade

15 August 2019 Consultancy.uk 3 min. read

Removing barriers in the workplace to increase diversity continues to be a focus for large businesses globally. Progress so far has been slow, with entrenched biases proving hard to overcome, and gender diversity in management has barely improved by 1% in the last 10 years.

The 2020s are fast approaching. Yet while much has been achieved in advancing human society to be more tolerant of diversity, various areas continue to face issues, including the business world. Focus on improving the lot of women in the workplace has become a priority among many of the world’s largest businesses. Progress has been slow however, with various barriers still to be overcome.

While slow progress is to be expected, given the lead-time for business pipelines to higher levels of female promotion into the upper echelons of business, making sure that lower level is clear of barriers to allow such progresses will be necessary. A new report from Boston Consulting Group explores current trends across the business world towards securing a 2020 in which women are able to fulfil their full potential in the business world.

The case for aiming for parity in the business world is multifaceted. Having a broader perspective has been shown in a number of earlier reports to improve business decision making, improve investment decision making as well as improving overall performance. Diversity has also been shown to improve company innovation, while also improving resilience as a more diverse background provides a broader front for possible adaptive moves in the face of possible crises.Little change in gender diversity over the past ten years

Despite this, since 2009, the average share of women who are managers with large companies has remained broadly unchanged. Having declined by 1% by 2015, by 2017 the number had rebounded, increasing slightly to 27%. While this arguably represents progress, however, the overall change is still a mere 1% advance toward gender parity.

Change needed

With this in mind, the researchers identified a number of practices that business could implement to encourage and enable diversity going forward. The firm notes that a focus on creating an inclusive workplace sets the stage for wider success as it reduces various barriers that result in new hires from a diverse background leaving due to a cultural mismatch.

The firm summarised that there are five key factors that improve workplace inclusion, “participative leadership, with different views readily heard and appreciated; a strategic emphasis on diversity led by the CEO; frequent and open communication among teams; a culture of openness to new ideas; and fair and transparent employment practices, including equal pay. When a corporate ecosystem has all of these in place, the organisation will be able to reap the true business benefits of diversity and be ready for the next decade.”

Aside from creating an inclusive workplace, the firm suggest creating a clear picture of how much progress the company or various departments are making towards wider diversity goals. Moves include not becoming complacent to periods of success; being honest about successes and failures; creating specific ambitious but achievable targets; and applying a range of measures towards reaching that goal, including tried-and-tested measures, such as antidiscrimination policies and bias awareness training.