How to Achieve Gender Balance at All Levels

A topic that has been on each company’s mind in the latest years is “gender balance”, also defined as the equal participation of women and men in all areas of work, projects, and programs.

At first companies implemented unbiased ways of testing candidate hard and soft skills before hiring which resulted in a half-women and half-men entry-level workforce.

Even though this practice is a good way to start, it has been highlighted that there is no warranty that this half woman half men entry-level will turn into a gender balanced senior management level.

For example, let’s consider a company whose entry-level workforce is 50% and 50% but the proportion of women drops lightly to 38% at a manager level, 28% at senior vice presidents, and 21% of C-suite executives. A deeper dive into the data reveals that the drop-off of women is primarily driven by gender disparities in promotion rates, not gender differences in hiring or retention (“Women in the workplace” McKinsey/Lean).

These findings bring to the surface that companies should target their efforts on career advancement rather than recruitment. If companies are not able to develop and promote the women they hire, it will be very difficult for them to reach gender parity at senior levels.

How can companies do this? The answer is simple, gender proportionality principle (GPP).

The GPP stipulates each level in a company should aim to reflect the gender composition of the level immediately below it. Usually, women are represented in greater numbers at lower levels, so applying the gender proportionality principle would see women’s representation rise over time.

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