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New McKinsey & Co Study Says Companies are Still Failing Women

A new McKinsey & Co study suggests companies are still falling short in the corporate pipeline, widening pay gap, and a decrease in work flexibility.

In the United States, where employees are becoming increasingly more vocal with their expectations about compensation, benefits, toxic work environments and leaders, women, particularly women of color are still being left behind.

Despite a heightened awareness of workplace inequities, and companies becoming increasingly more committed to gender diversity, equity and inclusion, companies are still falling short with an exclusive corporate pipeline, a widening pay gap, and a decrease in work flexibility.

A new study by McKinsey & Co, and Lean In, a non-profit focused on empowering women, collected research from 276 organizations, and surveyed over 27,000 employees and 270 senior HR leaders with a diverse selection of women in the workplace, including women of color, LGBTQ+ women, and women with disabilities.


Female Leadership Representation

While there has been an increase in the representation of women at senior leadership levels, the corporate pipeline is witnessing a dramatic narrowing of female leaders as managers, directors, and vice presidents. This thinning is particularly concerning at the crucial step between entry-level and managerial positions.

“The study shares that, for every 100 men promoted to manager from entry-level, only 87 women make the same leap.”

The study shares that, for every 100 men promoted to manager from entry-level, only 87 women make the same leap. This disparity worsens for women of color, with only 73 women of color promoted for every 100 men, this is a decrease from the 82 women of color promoted in 2022. This “broken rung” in the corporate ladder creates inequity and difficulty for women to catch-up to the experience and professional opportunities given to their male counterparts.

SPECTRAFORCE, a global staffing firm based in the U.S, has successfully created an equitable, inclusive pipeline with more than 60% of leadership positions being held by women and 44% diversity across US team. Amber Kramer, the VP of People Operations at SPECTRAFORCE says, “Despite the heartbreaking events in the last few years, we were not reactive or following a “trend”; our DEI committee had been long-standing, education for our employees of DEI-specific material had already seen many revisions.”


A Widening Gender Pay Gap

Since the global pandemic the women have seen a setback in the gender pay gap. This setback is found in low-wage, middle-wage, and high-wage, with high-wage jobs having the highest pay gap between men and women. The Economic Policy Institute stated, “Women, on average, were paid 20.3% less than men in 2019. By 2022, that gap widened to 22.2%.”


Flexible Work is Significantly More Important to Women

The ability to work remotely or have flexible schedules is essential for attracting and retaining talent, especially female talent. A hybrid schedule is not just a trend but a shift in the labor market that all companies need to accept to avoid missing out on top talent and alienating the female workforce. Despite this, the United States has witnessed a decrease in the number of roles offered remotely.

The “Great Breakup,” where women are voluntarily leaving leadership positions, is partially fueled by the desire for a flexible work environment, with 20% of the female leadership attrition citing a lack of flexibility as the main reason. The study also found that with remote or hybrid work, women are more likely to be happy with their jobs, (81% vs. 61%), feel less burn out (30% vs 21%) and feel that they have a stronger chance to advance in their career (67% vs 47%).

The divide between an employer’s efforts and employee preferences highlights the need for companies to reconsider their approach to flexibility, aligning it with needs of a modern workforce. Women have also reported seeing a decrease in the number of microaggressions they face or being left out of crucial conversations in roles where most of the company is hybrid or remote. This creates a safer, more conducive work environment.

“Having a hybrid, flexible schedule allows employees, including parents, the ability to not feel they must sacrifice their commitment to home life for a successful professional career.”Amber Kramer, VP of People Operations at SPECTRAFORCE

Kramer shares SPECTRAFORCE’S policies around work flexibility and the impact it has made, “Having a hybrid, flexible schedule allows employees, including parents, the ability to not feel they must sacrifice their commitment to home life for a successful professional career. Employees/parents aren’t the only ones who benefit from this, but their children do, too. Some of our employees have mentioned their children wouldn’t be able to partake in therapies or activities without the flexibility that SPECTRAFORCE offers.”

This commitment to work flexibility is in-part, what has made SPECTRAFORCE successful at attracting and maintaining female talent, especially amidst the “Great Breakup”.

If companies do not set up a clear, equitable corporate pipeline, give fair wages and retain flexibility, then “The Great Break up” will continue to happen where female leaders leave feeling undervalued to find a better company that will prioritize their career development, pay competitively, and promote flexibility.


Morgan Duersch has worked as a content writer for over 10 years and has worked in publishing, franchising, fitness and the staffing industry. She is currently the Marketing Manager for SPECTRAFORCE and oversees their US efforts.


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