Women are less likely to be promoted to managerial positions or get higher salaries as they are percieved to be "intimidating," "too aggressive," or "bossy, a new US study has found.
The study surveyed 132 companies that represent over 4.6 million workers in the US. In addition, more than 34,000 employees completed a survey designed to explore their experiences regarding gender, opportunity, career, and work-life issues. "We know that diverse teams perform better and inclusive workplaces are better for all employees, so we all have strong incentives to get this right," said Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, founder of LeanIn.org that conducted the research, along with US-based McKinsey&Company.
The study found that women negotiate for promotions and raises as often as men, but face pushback when they do. They are far more likely than men to receive feedback that they are "intimidating," "too aggressive," or "bossy." Women also receive informal feedback less frequently than men - despite asking for it as often - and have less access to senior-level sponsors.
Women are almost three times more likely than men to think their gender will make it harder to get a raise, promotion, or chance to get ahead, researchers said. The study found that women of colour face the most barriers and experience the steepest drop-offs with seniority despite having higher aspirations for becoming a top executive. Women of colour also reported that they get less access to opportunities and see a workplace that is less fair and inclusive.
They are nine per cent less likely to say they have received a challenging new assignment, 21 per cent less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and 10 per cent less likely to feel comfortable being themselves as work. Although company commitment to gender diversity is at an all-time high, companies are struggling to put their commitment into practice, researchers said.
Less than half of employees said their company is doing what it takes to improve diversity, and many employees do not see gender diversity as a personal priority. The report identifies concrete steps companies can take to advance their gender diversity efforts. They can make a stronger case for gender diversity, explaining why it matters and how it benefits everyone.
They can also ensure their hiring, promotion, and performance review polices are fair, and invest in training so employees know the steps they can take to promote gender diversity. They can place more emphasis on accountability and set gender targets so it is easier to track and make progress.