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Senior roles eluding women despite flexible work arrangements

senior roles eluding women in the workpalce

Flexible working arrangements have proven beneficial in helping women retain their jobs and avoid reducing their working hours, as reported in a study conducted by McKinsey and LeanIn.Org. Approximately one-fifth of women credit flexibility for this advantage, and the research also reveals that women who work flexibly exhibit the same level of commitment to their careers as their office-based counterparts.

Slow progress

Despite increased representation of women in C-suite positions, progress remains slow for women in junior roles. While the percentage of women in the C-suite has risen from 17% to 28% from 2015 to 2023, women in managerial and directorial positions have experienced slower growth. Women at the director level are leaving their roles at a higher rate than in previous years, particularly when compared to men in similar positions. This combination of factors has created a “broken rung” in the career ladder, making it challenging to achieve gender parity at senior levels.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2023 identifies a 60.1% gap in economic participation and opportunity, ranking it as the second largest gender divide among the four indices it measures. Furthermore, women of color face a 25% lower likelihood of promotion to managerial roles compared to their male counterparts.

Whats the issue?

The issue at hand is not a lack of ambition, as women are equally committed to advancing in their careers, including to more senior positions. The adoption of flexible working has not altered this ambition. Women working flexibly demonstrate the same level of drive as those based in traditional office settings, citing benefits such as reduced fatigue and burnout, increased focus on work, fewer microaggressions, and greater psychological safety when working remotely.

Notably, it is not just women who recognize the importance of choice in work hours and location. Half of women and a third of men consider flexibility among the top three factors contributing to their company’s success. However, men appear to disproportionately benefit from in-office work, gaining advantages such as being more informed, receiving mentorship, and garnering increased visibility and rewards, compared to their female counterparts. This underscores the need for addressing the “broken rung” and creating a more equitable career progression for women in the workplace.

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