Dearth of Women at Senior Levels
The disturbing fact is that the percentage of women in senior leadership roles in businesses has remained relatively steady.
Only 4.9% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 2% of S&P 500 CEOs are women. And those numbers are declining globally.
There are, of course, many factors that contribute to this dearth of women at senior levels. For centuries, there have been broad, cultural biases against women and stereotypes die slowly. People have long believed that many women elect not to aspire to the highest ranks of the organization and take themselves out of the running (though recent research disputes that). Lots of research has shown that unconscious bias places a significant role in hiring and promotion decisions, which also contributes to the lower number of women in key positions.
Current data presents even more compelling evidence that this bias is incorrect and unwarranted. Women are perceived by their managers — particularly their male managers — to be slightly more effective than men at every hierarchical level and in virtually every functional area of the organization. That includes the traditional male bastions of IT, operations, and legal.
As you can see in the chart below, women were rated as excelling in taking initiative, acting with resilience, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty. In fact, they were thought to be more effective in 84% of the competencies that we most frequently measure.
According to an analysis of thousands of 360-degree reviews, women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average or poor ones.
Drives for results
Displays high integrity and honesty
Inspires and motivates others
Establishes stretch goals
Collaboration and teamwork
Connects to the outside world
Communicates powerfully and prolifically
Solves problems and analyzes issues
Technical or professional expertise
Develops strategic perspective
Note: The t-values of all data are statistically significant.
Source: Zenger Folkman 2019