Bad News for Women in the US: Leadership Roles More Limited than Other Countries in the World

Chad Brooks from Business News Daily reported this week that “U.S. businesses aren’t doing very well at putting women in leadership roles. It’s surprising news to those of us who like to imagine that the we lead the world in democratic economic reform and equality. It’s time we wake up and smell the sexism!
In other words, we need to recognize that as a nation, we grow slowly. Visionary leadership and creative followership  is required at all levels of the culture, and it takes time for legislative and social change to penetrate conventional ways of thinking and working.  And after all, we’re still within a century of the establishment of women’s right to choose anything without parental or husband’s consent!
Consider this: It was only 96 years ago that women earned the vote, 49 years ago that women’s right to use contraceptives without the consent of their husbands was established in all states, 44 years ago that sex-segregated help wanted ads were banned, 36 years ago that employment discrimination against pregnant women was banned, 11 years ago that states were mandated to support the Family Leave Act, and 5 years ago that the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act realistically extended the time allowed to file a complaint for restorative remuneration for victims of pay discrimination. Women may have come a long way, but we have a long way to go for women’s rights leadership to penetrate the socioeconomic barriers in the workforce. (Read more: Women’s Rights Movement in the U.S.: Timeline of Events| )
Here's the cover of Time Magazine, with an article about Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and CEO of Facebook. It doesn't take a breath to see what's wrong with this caption!

Here’s the cover of Time Magazine, with an article about Sheryl Sandberg, author of Lean In and CEO of Facebook. It doesn’t take a research study to see what’s wrong with this caption!

Brooks reports: “Out of the 45 countries examined, the United States ranks in the bottom 10 for the percentage of women in senior management positions, with women occupying just 22 percent of senior roles, a study from the Grant Thornton International Business Report found. Although that represents a slight increase from last year’s 20 percent, it’s well behind countries such as Russia, Indonesia, Latvia and the Philippines, all of which have more than 40 percent of women in such positions.

Brooks quotes Erica O’Malley, Grant Thornton’s national managing partner of diversity and inclusion, who says: “It’s no longer feasible for U.S. businesses to adopt a sit-and-wait policy when it comes to promoting women to senior management roles, particularly when so many other nations — developed and emerging — are more rapidly realizing the benefits of diverse senior leadership,”

It’s worth looking at this year’s complete rankings to see how far behind we really are.

THE TOP COUNTRIES: Russia – 43 percent; Indonesia – 41 percent (tie); Latvia – 41 percent (tie); Philippines – 40 percent; Lithuania – 39 percent; China (mainland) – 38 percent; Thailand – 38 percent; Estonia – 37 percent; Armenia – 35 percent; Georgia – 35 percent; Peru – 35 percent; Poland – 34 percent; Hong Kong – 33 percent; Botswana – 32 percent; New Zealand – 31 percent; Belgium – 30 percent; Chile – 30 percent; Italy – 30 percent.

THE BOTTOM COUNTRIES: Finland – 29 percent; Greece – 29 percent; Mexico – 28 percent; South Africa – 26 percent; Sweden – 26 percent; Taiwan – 26 percent; Vietnam – 26 percent; Argentina – 25 percent; Malaysia – 25 percent; Turkey – 25 percent; France – 24 percent; Norway – 24 percent; Canada – 23 percent; Ireland – 23 percent; Singapore – 23 percent; Australia – 22 percent; Brazil – 22 percent; Spain – 22 percent; United States – 22 percent; United Kingdom – 20 percent; Denmark – 14 percent; Germany – 14 percent; India – 14 percent; United Aram Emirates – 14 percent; Switzerland – 13 percent; Netherlands – 10 percent;Japan – 9 percent.

It is remarkable how many so-called developed countries rank below 30%, and even below 15% in inclusion. It would be fascinating to study the cultural forces that keep women below the glass ceiling in these nations, and compare the causes.

According to the study, “part of the reason for the U.S.’ low ranking is that many companies aren’t hiring nearly as many women recent college graduates: 20 percent of U.S. businesses said less than 10 percent of their new graduate hires are women, the study found. Moreover, the vast majority of organizations worldwide aren’t taking the time to train women for leadership roles. Only 11 percent of businesses globally have a program to support and mentor women, with 70 percent of companies not even considering starting such programs.”

These are sobering statistics, worthy of future study. How about some stories to start with, experiences and thoughts from the salt mines of leadership development and the business worldwhat do you think is keeping women out of senior leadership roles in business in the US? And what might change that limitation into an opportunity?

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