Women’s History month may have just passed, but the conversation around the lack of representation of women in leadership roles is an ongoing effort. After all, performative actions for one month are not enough to drive change — so what are you doing to really make a meaningful difference?
Women have been historically underrepresented in leadership positions, and despite some progress, there’s still a long way to go. One of the key issues is the lack of representation of women in mid-level leadership positions. Despite women significantly outnumbering men in graduation rates over the past decade, the number of women in these roles has remained stagnant. As a result, organizations are losing valuable talent — and then complaining about a lack of it.
In 2022, the annual Women in the Workplace report by McKinsey revealed that women leaders are switching jobs at the highest rates seen, and at higher rates than men in leadership. This trend could lead to serious consequences for companies looking to build a diverse and equitable workplace. With too few women leaders in management already, the loss of experienced and qualified women could further impede progress towards gender equity.
Systemic biases such as the “broken rung” have long prevented women from moving up the ranks to managerial positions, creating a significant barrier to advancement. This early barrier makes it difficult for women to catch up to men in senior leadership roles, perpetuating the underrepresentation of women in management.
To address this issue, we need to help women reframe their assumptions about what it means to be a leader and give them the strength to shift organizational culture. We also need to work with leaders to help them rethink their definitions of leadership so they can be more inclusive and leverage the talent within their organization. Outdated views about the skills and abilities of women still exist — so it’s more important than ever to call out these views and challenge them with facts and data.
Orange Grove offers a wide range of programs designed to help women overcome these challenges and succeed in leadership roles. These programs focus on providing women with the tools and resources they need to navigate the workplace and helping organizations shift their cultures to be more inclusive and supportive of women leaders. Our research suggests that only 31% of employees are trained in inclusion and only 21% of senior leaders are trained on how to manage diverse populations. Inclusive behaviors can be taught – just like with other leadership/soft skills, it’s only a matter of identifying and developing specific skillets.
With the lack of women in leadership positions being a persistent problem in businesses, we need to make a sustained effort to shift the culture of organizations and break down the assumptions that hold women back. It’s time to step up and make meaningful changes that will benefit everyone in the workplace, not just during Women’s History Month, but every day.