The Path to Progress: Achieving Gender Parity in the Workplace Starts With Our Mindset
As a woman in the workforce, you must believe in yourself. Ask enabling questions that empower growth, with a focus on upgrading your skills. Stay determined and be relentless in your ambition.
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Though women and girls represent roughly half the global population, they are often disproportionately excluded. Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative; it can't be debated. But yet, unconscious bias holds us back, and debiasing people's minds has proven to be difficult, and, at times, expensive. By debiasing organizations, we can make smart changes that have big impacts.
Research-based solutions hand us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions. It draws on data such as the eighth report McKinsey recently released, Women in the Workplace, which surveyed over 40,000 employees from 333 organizations that employ more than 12 million people. The findings revealed that we're amid a "Great Breakup," where women are demanding what they deserve from work, and leaving their companies in unprecedented numbers to get it. The report found that in 2022 women hold 48% of entry-level positions, 40% of management positions, 36% of senior manager director positions, 32% of vice president (VP) positions, 28% of senior vice president (SVP) positions, and 26% of C-suite positions.
When comparing this to 2017, there has been slight progress; women with entry-level positions increased by 1%, while women holding management positions, senior manager director positions, and VP positions saw increases of 3% each. Furthermore, women in SVP positions and C-suite positions rose by 7% and 6% respectively. It seems that a large majority of women are still leaving the workplace- citing these numbers can be discouraging enough for them to quit their industry, or the workforce altogether.
However, I'd encourage them to persevere with a different mindset and focus on evidence-based interventions that could be adopted right now, improving lives and performance. The facts are data-driven and indisputable.
There is undeniably a gender disparity in the workplace, but there are two schools of thought to consider when trying to achieve a balance, and reframe your domain of thought:
A LIMITING DOMAIN If we get caught up in the numbers, we limit our progress. If we focus on the fact that women are significantly underrepresented in the workplace, our perspective becomes narrow; we view the gender imbalance through a glass-half-empty lens. Focusing on the negatives holds you back from what is possible. So, view data as inspiration, instead of as a reinforcement of why women cannot obtain and hold leadership roles.
AN ENABLING DOMAIN The opposite end of the spectrum is looking at what possibilities exist, and how we can achieve the subsequent outcomes. Instead of being discouraged by the fact that only 26% of the female workforce has made it to the top, understand that it is possible and have conversations to discuss how it can be achieved.
It all starts with you. There is hope, but you have to believe it is possible. There is no doubt that the percentage of women in leadership positions is disproportionate to males in similar standing. I encourage everyone to remember that some women have climbed to the mountaintop to prove that this is possible. As a woman in the workforce, you must believe in yourself. Ask enabling questions that empower growth, with a focus on upgrading your skills. Stay determined and be relentless in your ambition.
So, how can males in the workplace help? Women are leaving the workplace because they choose not to work in toxic and frustrating environments. This is something I support, because it means that we are valuing our worth, and we are adamant about seeking out a specific standard of excellence. As a woman in the workplace, it is essential to stand up for yourself, demand your rights, and be clear about what you will and will not tolerate.
Men in the workplace are responsible for supporting women in this regard. All team members, regardless of gender, have the responsibility to stand up for themselves and their colleagues if they hear ideas being unfairly dismissed, discussions being interrupted in meetings and presentations, and any other unjust or biased behavior. Working together towards a more levelled working environment is key. This is what will advance the overall organizational culture, especially in the long term.