Are Companies Cultivating Women?

Depends Who You Ask

That gaps in pay and position still exist between men and women in the workplace is no secret. This inequity has led to a gap in perception. A new study reveals the distinct differences in how men and women perceive the efforts of organizations to recruit, develop, and retain their female workers.

The University of North Carolina leadership survey asked nearly a thousand professionals if they thought the number of women in senior leadership positions had increased in the past five years. Men were much more positive, with 57 percent saying the number had increased. Only 36 percent of female respondents thought so. When asked how effective their organizations had been in recruiting women, 53 percent of men said they were extremely or moderately effective; only 33 percent of women said the same. Similarly, when asked if their organizations were effective in retaining women, 73 percent of men said their organizations were extremely or moderately so, versus 52 percent of women.

The survey, conducted by UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, also showed that the development of women into leadership positions is a medium-to-low priority for many employers. Nearly half of respondents said developing women leaders was not on their strategic agenda. Fifty-two percent of women felt that it was not part of their organization’s strategic agenda, versus 31 percent of men.

“These differing perceptions can cause unintended consequences for companies,” said Susan Cates, UNC Kenan-Flagler associate dean of executive development. “Organizations need to ensure that perceptions match reality.”


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