Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors
Healthcare Informatics and Technology Investors


About Team Role Theory

History & Research

Reliability & Validity

Dr. Meredith Belbin

Behavior vs. Personality



Training Urged for Women - Inadequate Career Development Holds Back Female Executives

By J. Lublin; April 4, 2011; Wall Street Journal

Substandard career growth has kept women of all ages from attaining the leading ranks of the corporate ladder, according to a survey set to be released Tuesday by management consulting agency McKinsey & Co.

The survey, which looks at obstacles to women's progress in businesses, is primarily established on a 2011 study of 2, 525 college-educated individuals, including 1, 525 individuals employed by large corporations, mainly in management.

Despite efforts by major companies, only a small number of females have ascended to the leadership pinnacle, the McKinsey report concluded. Only 11 chief executives of Fortune 500 companies are women, down from a peak of 15 in 2010, according to a spokeswoman for Catalyst Inc., a nonprofit women's study group. There were 2 Fortune 500 woman CEOs in 2000, up from one in 1995, Catalyst said in a 2000 report.

Similarly, the McKinsey analysis reported a 2010 Catalyst report that said 37% of lower-level and middle administrators are female, while just 26% of vice presidents and various other senior managers are women at Fortune 500 firms. McKinsey plans to release the results during a "Women in the Economy" conference sponsored by The Wall Street Journal in Palm Beach, Fla.

To break the upper echelons of corporate America, McKinsey states that businesses have to groom a deeper bench of female middle managers for development.

"By increasing the number of women who make it from middle management to the vice presidential level, organizations could vastly improve the odds for creating diversity in top administration," the report added. Even a 25% increase in the ranks of middle-management women attaining the next level "would substantially alter the contour of the pipeline," it explained.

Joanna Barsh, a McKinsey senior associate who co-wrote the report, said companies need to spend more time coaching women and offering more leadership education and rotation through a variety of management roles before their aspirations sour.

Ms. Barsh stated the McKinsey study discovered that organizations were not "systematically observing these women at the middle management stage and putting in routines that would help them produce and get over the next [promotion] hurdle."

The paucity of this sort of support partly clarifies why women's ambitions decline over time, explained Ms. Barsh. "Limitations grow to be insurmountable," especially for working mothers, she added.

According to the survey, McKinsey analysts found that female aspiration declines dramatically at middle age. About 64% of women ages 45 to 54 years old indicated a desire to advance professionally, compared with 78% of the males in the same age range. The equivalent figures were 92% and 98%, respectively, for women and men aged 23 to 34.

A female former senior executive for a major insurance provider who had not been involved in McKinsey's analysis agreed with the recommendations. Businesses committed to gender diversity at the top shouldn't just give "lip service by having tokens," this exec said. They should be "actively grooming women, making sure they have advisors and actively promoting their professions."

As part of its analysis, McKinsey also assessed the makeup of executive committees at Fortune 200 firms and discovered women make up just 15% of the leading administration panels.

These "women are doubly handicapped" because 62% occupy staff positions "that almost never lead to a CEO role," the study said. In contrast, the report found that 65% of males on the executive committee hold line positions, which typically entail profit and loss responsibility for an operation.

To remedy this situation, the McKinsey report suggested that organizations work harder to adjust the mind-sets restraining women's prospects, such as the popular belief that a woman can't juggle specific positions and household duties. As additional support, the report said that the performance of top supervisors should be evaluated partly on their potential to groom and promote female expertise.

"A diversity program by itself, no matter how thorough, is no match for entrenched beliefs that prevail," the report said.