The Gender Diversity Mindset

Every company has an embedded culture that sets the tone for acceptable behavior. Whether stated – or implied – this culture plays a critical role in either supporting or hindering efforts to advance diversity. A recent multiyear McKinsey Global Survey  investigated gender in the workplace and the ability of women to reach top management. I found the results compelling and wanted to share some key nuggets with you. Women Matter While the majority of the 230 companies surveyed had implemented at least one measure to recruit, retain, promote, and develop women, few companies have seen notable improvements as a result. The primary culprit impeding success – corporate culture. Cultural factors at work are more than twice as likely as individual factors to affect women’s confidence that they can reach top management.

What Women Want Survey results show that women’s career ambitions are just as high as their male peers, and they are ready to do what it takes to achieve their ambitions. Yet female executives are much less certain they will reach the top. Two factors seem to drive or inhibit career success: personal actions/desires/initiative, and the organizational environment in which executives work.

Moving the Needle What are the most important drivers for increasing gender diversity at the top? Survey respondents say strong CEO and top-management commitment, and a corporate culture and mind-set that supports gender-diversity objectives are required to achieve this goal. No one single tactic will deliver success. Companies need a whole ecosystem of measures – and both male and female executives to actively support the initiatives.

While you can certainly impact your company’s culture, you will see faster results by focusing on your own actions and what you can influence. In my book Show Up. Step Up. Step Out., I share a variety of practical leadership strategies that get results. Based on what’s getting in the way of your success, pick a chapter each week and focus on implementing the strategies in it.