This Is How We Get More Women in Management

December 10, 2020
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From 2018 to 2019, the number of women holding senior leadership positions internationally grew to a record high: 29 percent. 

It’s noteworthy progress, but the numbers remained stagnant in 2020, with one barrier in particular continuing to hold women back from management roles. 

According to McKinsey’s annual Women in the Workplace report, the biggest hurdle that prevents women from career advancement is what McKinsey’s team calls the “broken rung,” or, the first promotion from entry-level to management.  

“For the sixth year in a row, women continued to lose ground at the first step up to manager,” the study said.
 

For the sixth year in a row, women continued to lose ground at the first step up to manager.”


Furthermore, McKinsey found that for every 100 men promoted to manager, only 85 women were promoted. The number dropped even further for women of color, with 58 Black women and 71 Latinas promoted for every 100 men. 

But there are processes and programs that Boston-based edX and OneView Commerce said can help dissolve this obstacle for women.

Both companies’ management teams consist of 50 percent women or more, with senior leadership made up of 43 percent women. They’ve leaned on mentorship programs, formal career pathways and company-wide recognition of strong work to help attain these numbers.

Here’s what these initiatives look like in practice and how they have helped women ascend the corporate ladder.

 

edx
edx
Ari Gett
Manager of Human Resources

The online learning platform edX developed formalized evaluations, goal-setting and career pathways to help employees gain a clear understanding of what their growth could look like. Since adding these processes, HR Manager Ari Gett said overall employee clarity on promotion paths has increased.


edX at a glance: 

  • 51 percent of managers identify as women
  • 43 percent of senior leadership identify as women
  • [email protected] employee resource group and dedicated Slack channel to discuss and share resources on topics like career development and stress management 


What programs and policies are you using to ensure that women have an equal chance at making that “first promotion” to a management position?

Pre-2018, edX didn’t have standard routine evaluations, goal-setting or career pathways. Since then, we’ve created standards for evaluating performance across the company and built out career pathways for most functions. For functions without a standard career pathway, we’ve built worksheets for managers and employees to use when thinking about growth within and outside of their roles. We also have twice-a-year equity reviews for all edX employees and opportunities for promotions and market adjustments.

Since creating these tools, employees are getting feedback about their performance at least every quarter, but more often in their weekly manager check-ins. Employees who are interested in being promoted have tools they can access even before they begin this discussion with their managers.

 

Describe the results of those policies, and how you have iterated on them over time.

We conduct a yearly employee engagement survey that helps us to measure employee engagement, celebrate what we do well as a company and take action on issues that get in the way of meaningful progress. Our 2019 survey found that since we formalized our career pathways, there was a 13 percent increase in clarity on promotion pathways. Additionally, of the employees who identify as women, 92 percent agree that they understand what is expected of them at work, and understand how their role contributes to the success of edX.

 

oneview
oneview
Jo-Anne O'Brien Fay
Chief People Officer

OneView Commerce, a digital retail transaction and experience platform, introduced unconscious bias training, mentorship support and internal promotion searches that seek candidates who fall outside of typical promotion tracks. “This approach is essential to separate those who shine as they speak the loudest from those with equal or greater shine but are more measured,” said Chief People Officer Jo-Anne O'Brien Fay.

 

OneView Commerce at a glance:

  • 50 percent of managers identify as women
  • 43 percent of senior leadership identify as women
  • 35 percent of the entire team identifies as women
  • Values diversity across all teams with a primary focus on the development team to address underrepresentation of women in full-stack developer and technical roles 

 

What programs and policies are you using to ensure that women have an equal chance at making that “first promotion” to a management position?

We are continuously looking to evolve our training opportunities for all managers and staff. Unconscious bias training is an integral part of that training plan. Additionally, we focus on mentorship and are fortunate to have several women in senior roles who provide support and guidance to our younger team members as they build their careers and manage the unique challenges women face. Finally, as we look for promotion candidates, we recognize strong contributors who may make contributions that fall outside typical promotion tracks. This approach is essential to separate those who shine as they speak the loudest from those with equal or greater shine but are more measured. Our goal is to enable the “first promotion” to be as equitably balanced as possible for the benefit of OneView and all “viewers.”

 

Describe the results of those policies, and how you have iterated on them over time.

In addition to being a women-led organization with a CEO who understands diversity is integral to success, we are fortunate to have the identical gender representation on our senior executive team as we have throughout the manager level. The strong establishment of women in our decision-making pathway allows us to work toward a more organic evolution of policies to create balance. Our mentorship programs have allowed us to promote several brilliant and talented women to manager and leadership roles, working directly with teams and our clients. Our training and development goal is to equip them with the knowledge and skills to shine as they continue to grow and evolve throughout their careers.

 

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