A rising tide lifts all boats, and when it comes to ensuring women’s representation, the impact is a tidal wave of innovative perspectives that help business and society flourish.
For corporations, efforts to improve leadership diversity are measurably linked with profitability and value creation. Clearly, everyone has a stake in the advancement of women. Counterintuitively, efforts to increase the percentage of women in senior leadership may mask the real reason men continue to outnumber women at the top.
Women in the Workplace, a 2019 study from consulting firm McKinsey and Company and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s non-profit Lean In, observes that the glass ceiling, the invisible and systemic barrier that prevents women from rising to the top, “is not the biggest obstacle to women’s progression.”
The real problem is the talent pipeline—or rather the lack of one. “And without fundamental changes early in the pipeline,” the study warns that “gains in women’s representation will ultimately stall.”
Progress is constrained by what the study has named the “broken rung.” The first step on the ladder to senior leadership is the move from an entry-level position to manager.
Missing that first, most difficult, step is more than a setback for individual women. It starves companies of amazing talent, deprives them of diverse thought and threatens to push gender parity out of reach. Fixing it, the study urges, will “set off a positive chain reaction across the entire pipeline.”
Fueling the pipeline requires reframing the importance of diversity and inclusion. It demands the commitment of companies to develop talented women from the entry level up.
But it also calls for women to empower each other. As fellow Forbes contributor Keemia Ferasat, Founder and CEO of Style Salute, a digital media company focused on the positive power of women, points out in her latest post: “None of us are operating in a silo.
Advancing women in our own communities and offices and providing opportunities for them to reach their potential is important both for attaining gender equality and also for meeting a wide range of international development goals.”
Women have found unique and effective ways to help one another, lifting each other up and paving new pathways to success. I draw from interviews with four remarkable women in marketing (including two managers whose expertise in mobile app marketing has earned them the title Mobile Hero) to shine a light on best practices all women can follow to work together and advocate for each other.