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Where are all the senior level women

Where are all the senior level women - Where are all the...

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Where are all the senior-level women? Vikram Malhotra of McKinsey on a corporate talent pipeline that is leaky—and blocked What is holding women back in the workplace? And how can those restraints be broken? Vikram Malhotra, chairman of the Americas at McKinsey & Co., told the Women in the Economy conference what insights into those questions his company discovered in its latest research. The Wall Street Journal's Alan Murray then discussed those findings with Harvard University economics professor Claudia Goldin; Saadia Zahidi, director of the Women Leaders and Gender Parity Program at the World Economic Forum; and Nancy Carter, head of research at Catalyst Inc. Here are edited excerpts of Mr. Malhotra's address and the discussion that followed. MR. MALHOTRA: Why aren't there more women in senior positions, even with the best efforts of corporations? The reason is very simple. Our corporate talent pipeline is leaky, and it is blocked. Qualified women enter the work force in sufficient numbers, but they begin to drop off at the very first sorting of talent, when they're eligible for their very first management positions. And it only gets worse after that. There is a silver lining, a leverage point—middle-management women. They have enormously high aspirations. They're accumulating new skills and gaining expertise in how business works. And they are growing more confident and more ambitious day by day. They really want to move to the next level, as much as men do. We must capture their minds and hearts before their ambitions turn sour. And we know that their ambitions do turn sour before those of men down the road. So what is discouraging and holding back such highly qualified, highly motivated women? First, the familiar structural barriers. They include a lack of women role models, exclusion from informal networks where connections are made, and the absence of sponsorship. Second, there are lifestyle issues—concern about the 24/7 executive lifestyle and travel requirements. The third barrier is the entrenched beliefs held by both men and women throughout management: "Everybody knows you can't put a woman in that particular slot." Or, "That job could never be done part time." Or, "If you promote a woman and she goes out on leave, we won't make our numbers." A fourth barrier is individual mind-sets. As women age, their desire to move to the next level dissipates faster than men's. Genesis Photos for The Wall Street Journal
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VIKRAM MALHOTRA 'As women age, their desire to move to the next level dissipates faster than men's.' What can we do about this? It starts with a compelling story for change—the business case. It requires management at every tier and employees of all levels to connect with the case for change and understand how they can eachcontribute to it.
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