Every C-suite executive says inclusion and diversity are priorities. America’s workforce is filled with accomplished women. However, women are still passed over for the most senior leadership roles with only one in four executives female.
Four hidden barriers getting in our way
Oliver Wyman researchers spoke with more than 160 senior female leaders in business and surveyed more than 300 male and female executives on the gender leadership gap. We uncovered four hidden barriers, each directly affecting a company’s ability to win through talent and build a sustainable culture for all.
1. Leadership is the same game with different rules
2. Results do not speak for themselves
3. Qualified women are unintentionally left on the sidelines
4. Implicit biases and microaggressions are exhausting
The path forward to breakthrough progress
The report dives into each of the barriers and provided fundamental steps to make real and lasting progress.
- Make the invisible visible: Be not just aware of the hidden barriers but understand how and where they hijack everyone's best efforts. Only then can something be done about them.
- Sponsorship, the great equalizer: Everyone who gets to senior leadership had sponsors who made a difference. Sponsors are more than mentors because they lend their own personal credibility and advocate for those they sponsor.
I was working cross-functionally, outside of my direct function, to impact the organization at a higher level. The network across functions becomes your macro sponsors – not just who you’re reporting to but other people they’re working with who can speak to the impact you’re making.
Senior Vice President, CHRO
There was a regional opening and I said, ‘What about me?’ My boss asked, ‘You would travel?’ And I said, ‘Of course. Why would you think I wouldn’t?’
Chief Executive Officer
You need a reason to get up in the morning, believe your voice is heard, and your opinions matter.
Senior Vice President
If you’re a man and you raise your voice or have a strong opinion, you’re assertive. If you’re a woman, you’re over-passionate and aggressive.
Women begin their careers with a mindset if we do the best job we can, keep our heads down, and have the right answers, someone will notice.
Chief Operating Officer
My sponsor is the reason I’m here – not because I haven’t earned my way, but because otherwise, I’d have hung out on the trading floor forever because I liked what I was doing.
Chief Financial Officer
The more well-rounded I was, the more confident I became because I could see how things impacted everybody. Women leaders need to understand and proactively try to understand the downstream and related impacts of a decision.