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Women Leaders Matter, But Few Companies Take Action

December 7, 2010

A majority of companies believe that women executives are vital to financial success, yet businesses are slow to bridge the gap between men and women in the top echelons of management, according to a new McKinsey & Company survey, Moving Women to the Top.

Seventy-two percent of global workers surveyed said there is a direct connection between diversity of leadership teams and financial success, up 12 percent from a year ago (85 percent of women agree compared with 58 percent of men). However, the share of respondents who said their companies have gender diversity as a top 10 agenda item held steady at 28 percent.

Removing Barriers for Women in Business

The actions most likely undertaken over the past five years to recruit, retain, promote and develop women include:

  • Options for flexible working conditions and/or locations (49 percent).
  • Support programs and facilities to help reconcile work and family life (32 percent).
  • Programs to encourage female networking, role models (38 percent).

The biggest barrier to gender diversity, according to global respondents, is “lack of awareness or concern for gender diversity as a critical matter.” As a result, many feel C-level and executive team involvement is a key ingredient for success.

“CEOs and top-level executives who are aware of their potential impact on the issue can benefit their companies by paying visible attention to it,” according to the report.

How Women Take Command

If you ask Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, she advises women to take matters in their own hands rather than wait for corporate policies to help them rise to the top.

In her New York Times blog, You’re the Boss, Adriana Gardella asks Feldt, “What are some examples of the barriers women create for themselves?

Says Feldt: “Waiting politely to speak during a meeting only to hear a male colleague offer the idea you planned to suggest. Learning that a man with the same qualifications and job as you started at a higher salary because he asked for it and you didn’t. Taking on the major burden of household duties because you know it’ll get done that way.”

On her book site, Feldt says that “the key to change is to shift the way women think about power and leadership.”

In Your Shoes is created by Johnston & Murphy, offering quality shoes and outerwear for women and men. We welcome your comments and contributions.

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