As a trainer and leadership developer of women, I’ve had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of HR and senior executive leaders the past 10 years, about women, growth, and paving the way for women’s ascension to leadership in corporate America. Yet what remains so disappointing and in fact, shocking, is that despite the irrefutable business case for the need to balance corporate leadership ranks with more women, we’re making very little headway – very little progress in the way of effective corporate change is occurring. Yes there are winners of Catalyst and other awards – and great, progressive organizations doing their part – but in the whole of corporate America, we’re not seeing the substantive change that’s necessary. Further, recent studies show that senior women are hit three times harder than their male counterparts in these tough economic times.
I believe there are 6 core reasons why women aren’t advancing to the leadership ranks to the degree we need them to in corporate America. One of the most important factors is that organizations are not digging deep enough to uncover exactly why their organization isn’t fostering women leaders successfully. Leaders and HR directors attempt to address the issue every day, and they commit diversity dollars, initiatives, training programs and networking events to moving the needle, but rarely have the hard data, research and findings from men and women in the organization as to why women are leaving before they reach leadership levels, why they are plateauing or not being promoting effectively into leadership. Thus, their programs and initiatives don’t make a lasting difference.
Before I share what I believe are the 6 reasons why women aren’t leading in sufficient numbers, I’d like to ask HR staff and senior leaders this question:
Do you know (based on sound research and data and frank and open conversations at your company) EXACTLY why women are not sitting at your leadership tables in your organization? Do you have a handle on the specific part of the pipeline where you lose women, and why? If not, what step can you take this month to investigate as thoroughly as possible the barriers to women’s leadership success at your company? (For resources and innovative ideas on how to move the needle, check out Bentley University’s Center for Women & Business cutting-edge programs and events).
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