The commitment to gender equality is public, but progress remains slow.
Gender pay gaps persist around the world, including in the United States.
According to public information collected by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the global gender pay gap ranges from 3% to 51% with a global average of 17% (ITUC 2009).
In 2010, there were approximately 65 million women in the labor force and 53% of these women were concentrated in three industries:
- a) education and health services
- b) trade, transportation and utilities
- c) local government
Women were overrepresented in several industries and underrepresented in others. For example, in 2010, women represented 79% of the health and social services workforce and 68.6% of the education services workforce. However, women represented only 43.2% of the professional, scientific and technical services sector and 8.9% of the construction sector.
In terms of women in leadership positions, in 2009 only 24% of CEOs in the US were women and they earned 74.5% as much as male CEOs.
Women remain underrepresented at every level in corporate America, despite earning more college degrees than men for 30 years and counting. There is a pressing need to do more, and most organizations realize this: company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high for the third year in a row.
Now, Women in the Workplace 2017, a study conducted by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, looks more deeply at why, drawing on data from 222 companies employing more than 12 million people, as well as on a survey of over 70,000 employees and a series of qualitative interviews.
One of the most powerful reasons for the lack of progress is a simple one: we have blind spots when it comes to diversity, and we can’t solve problems that we don’t see or understand clearly.
Women remain significantly underrepresented in the corporate pipeline. From the outset, fewer women than men are hired at the entry level, despite women being 57% of recent college graduates. At every subsequent step, the representation of women further declines, and women of color face an even steeper drop-off at senior levels. As a result, one in five C-suite leaders is a woman, and fewer than one in 30 is a woman of color. Moreover, compared with the modest gains women made in prior years, there are signs this year that women’s progress may be stalling.
The McKinsey and Lean Study conclude that it is critical that companies understand their particular pain points and tackle them directly. For most if not all companies, this includes addressing the distinct barriers women of color face and getting sufficient buy-in from men. Until they do, companies’ gender-diversity efforts are likely to continue to fall short.