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Dear Corporate America: You Are Enforcing The Gender Divide

Culture

According to the “Women in The Workplace Study 2016", by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, women are less likely to receive the first critical promotion to manager, so far fewer end up on the path to leadership-and are less likely to be hired into senior leadership roles.


Consequently the higher you look in companies, the fewer women you'll see. The study was comprised of 132 companies employing more than 4.6 million people who shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of HR practices. Additionally, 34,000 employees completed a survey intended to reveal their attitudes on gender, ambition, work-life issues, and job satisfaction.

Getting more women into leadership roles.

McKinsey & Company's Joanna Barsh reports that women are moving forward, albeit slowly; women won approximately 30 percent of new U.S. board seats in 2015, compared to 19 percent in 2010 and almost six percent of Fortune 500 CEO's are women. Barsh said: “Give employees more control over their schedules and create flexible work environments and make programs that demonstrate to women in mid-level positions that they can get to the next level so their aspirations stay high."

Despite modest progress since 2015, women remain underrepresented in the corporate pipeline. At every step, the representation of women declines. Promotion rates of women lag behind those of men, and the disparity is largest at the first step up to manager-for every 100 women promoted, 130 men are promoted. In addition, external hiring is not improving the representation of women. Furthermore, the study found that companies hire fewer women from the outside than men, particularly in senior management, at a rate of nearly two to one.

The distribution of women and men in line roles is abysmal.

At senior levels women shift from line to staff roles, while the percentage of men in line roles remains approximately the same. By the time women reach the senior vice president level, they comprise only a 20 percent share of the roles. It gets worse, in 2015, 90 percent of new CEOs were promoted or hired from line roles, and 100 percent of them were men. Women of color face a steeper climb to the top. Though they make up 20 percent of the U.S. population, women of color hold a mere three percent of C-suite roles, despite having higher aspirations for becoming a top executive than white women.

Compared to white women, women of color also report that they get less access to opportunities and see a workplace that is less fair and inclusive. They are nine percent less likely to say they've received a challenging new assignment, 21 percent less likely to think the best opportunities go to the most deserving employees, and 10 percent less likely to feel comfortable being themselves at work. And while 78 percent of companies report gender diversity is a top priority, only 55 percent report that racial diversity is. A greater awareness of the problem and a serious commitment to addressing it is long overdue.

When perception mirrors reality.

Women get less access to the people and opportunities that advance careers and are disadvantaged in many of their daily interactions. They are also less than half as likely as men to say they see a lot of people, like them, in senior management, and they're right-only 20 percent of senior executives are women.

Not surprisingly, these inequities have taken a toll on women. Compared to men, they are less likely to think that they have equal opportunities for growth and development and more likely to think that their gender will play a role in missing out on a promotion, raise, or some other opportunity for professional advancement.

Women are more likely to face pushback when seeking promotion.

It's not all bad news: women are negotiating for promotions and pay increases as often as men. And women who lobby for a promotion are 54 percent more likely to report getting one than those who don't.

But the bad news is that women who negotiate are disproportionately penalized for it. They are 30 percent more likely than men who negotiate to receive feedback that they are intimidating or too aggressive or bossy and 67 percent more likely than women who don't negotiate to receive the same negative feedback. Ultimately, despite lobbying for promotions at similar rates, women are on average less likely to be promoted than men.

When commitment to gender diversity rings hollow.

Companies are struggling to put their commitment to gender diversity into practice, and many employees do not see it as a serious priority. Seventy-eight percent of companies report that commitment to gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO, up from 56 percent in 2012. But this commitment does not always translate into visible action. Fewer than half of employees think their companies are doing what it takes to improve gender diversity.

Evidently the case for gender diversity is not reaching employees, or they worry they will be disadvantaged by diversity programs that are not fair. However, it's duly worth noting that if the workplace was inclusive and fair now, the corporate pipeline would more closely mirror the general population.

Steps for companies to take to advance gender diversity.

1-Make a compelling case for gender diversity.

Senior leaders have a crucial role to play, from talking more often and openly about gender diversity to modeling their commitment in their everyday actions. Although 62 percent of senior leaders say that gender diversity is an important personal priority, only 28 percent of employees say senior leaders regularly encourage an open dialogue on the topic.

2- Make hirings, promotions and performance reviews fair.

While 93 percent of companies report that they use clear and consistently applied criteria to evaluate performance, only 57 percent of employees believe that managers do this in practice. As an example, blind resume reviews are a relatively simple way to minimize bias, yet only four percent of companies say they do this.

3-Invest in more employee training.

Employees need to understand what steps they can take to get to equality, yet they clearly need more guidance: only 28 percent of entry-level employees and 51 percent of middle managers say they know what to do to improve gender diversity in the workplace.

4-Accountability and results.

Only 40 percent of companies report that they hold their senior level leaders accountable for performance against gender diversity metrics, and employees are even less likely to see this in practice: only 32 percent of employees report that senior leaders are regularly held accountable, and nine percent report that managers are recognized for progress on gender diversity. Only 44 percent of companies set pipeline targets, and even fewer set targets for external hiring and promotions. Targets matter because it is easier to track and make progress when a company has clear goals in place.

In summation, companies have a crucial role to play in reaching gender equality, and we will all benefit when they succeed. Ultimately, a more inclusive work environment will lead to more engaged employees, which will lead to stronger, more productive organizations. And that's the bottom line.

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Lifestyle

What I Learned From Dating Younger Men - It's Refreshing and More Authentic!

"There are no good men out there," yet another woman my age declared. At 50, I was freshly divorced after two decades of marriage and motherhood. My unhappy marriage had shattered my faith in men and romantic relationships. Based on my ex-husband's opinion of my sexual appeal, I was afraid my naked body would cause future lovers to run screaming from the room. Rather gleefully, I announced to my girlfriends that I was done with men, and sex, forever.


For the first year, I got tangled in my sheets alone every night, overjoyed to have the bed and my body to myself. I felt liberated by divorce—free to be me, skip showering, and make dinner for one. But it bothered me when women decried the scarcity of men, because I'd known so many good ones—college boyfriends, my brother, my best friend from business school, etc. The first of many naked truths gradually crept up on me: I was not going to find my juju again through self-help and yoga. The feminist in me didn't want to admit it, but going for too long without men was akin to starvation.

I didn't want another husband. But I needed men, a lot of them.

The universe signaled its approval by sending Mr. Blue Eyes to me at an airport. He was 29 and perhaps the sexiest man I'd ever kissed. Being with him convinced me, pretty decisively, that men were going to heal me, even though men had destroyed me many times before. I became the female incarnation of a divorced, clichéd older man: I bought a sports car, revamped my wardrobe, and took younger lovers. "I want five boyfriends," I told my best friend KC after that first tryst ended. "Sweet, cute, smart, nice. Enough that I won't get too attached to one." My message from the frontlines of divorce at 50 is that to restore your confidence as a woman, especially in the wake of a crushing breakup, try dating outside your comfort zone, expanding your dating pool to include partners you might never have considered before. It may not be the recipe for a lasting union, but in terms of rebuilding your self-esteem, it can work wonders.

The first thing I noticed—and liked—about dating younger men is that they didn't want to marry me or make babies with me. And I didn't want that either. Frankly, I didn't even want them to spend the night. Since I'd been 11, I'd been taught to seek out and value men who wanted commitment. To my surprise, I found it refreshing, even more authentic, to be valued not for my potential as a mate, but instead for my body, intelligence, life-experience and sexuality.

And the sex! I quickly realized that—warning, blanket stereotype coming—men under 40 are more straightforward and adventurous than older men, maybe since they were raised with the Internet. You hear so often about the scourge of crude, sexist online pornography; and I agree that the depersonalization of women as sexual playthings is deeply destructive to all genders. However, from sexting to foreplay, I found younger men uniquely enthusiastic about getting naked and enjoying sex. Every younger man found my most erotic zones faster than any man my age ever had, with a lack of hesitation men over 50 seemed unable to fathom.

Also, about my big fear of getting naked in front of a younger man? Completely unfounded. I started to shake when Airport Boy took off my sundress in our hotel room. Had he ever seen a woman my age nude? How could I stand to be skin-to-skin with a body far more perfect than mine? I had given birth to eight-pound, full-fucking-term babies. I'd nursed them, too, and at times by breasts looked (from my view at least) like wet paper towels. "You have a spectacular body," he told me instead, running his hand over the cellulite on my stomach that I despised. That night I learned that younger men who seek older women accept our physical flaws—they don't expect perfection in someone 20 years their senior. These men taught me to see my body through a positive, decidedly male lens, to focus on the pretty parts (and we all have them) rather than the flaws that we all have too, whether you're 19, 29 or 59.

I even found the pillow talk lighter, easier and more intellectually stimulating, because a younger man's world view differs so vastly from the pressures of my 20-something kids, annual colonoscopies, 401K balance and mortgage payments. They have simple financial problems, like "Can I borrow a few quarters for the parking meter outside?" or "Do you have any advice on consolidating my student loans?"

Everything feels simpler with younger men. Men under 40 seem less threatened by assertive women; they grew up with them. They like cheap beer instead of expensive wine. They don't snore (as much). Leftovers a 55-year-old would scoff at look good to them. Their erections NEVER last more than four hours. Their hard-ons end the old-fashioned way and 45 minutes later they are ready for more.

But what I enjoy most about younger men is not the sex, or the cliché that they make me feel young again—because they don't. Younger men make me feel old, and to my delight, I like that. I feel valuable around younger men, precisely because I am wiser and more experienced in life, love and between the sheets.

I know I'll never end up with one for good. The naked truth is we don't have enough in common to last. One recently put it exactly right when he told me, "I love this, but there's always gonna be a glass ceiling between us." That lack of permanence, the improbability of commitment and "forever," doesn't mean I can't pick up a tip or two about self-esteem, and enjoy the magic of human connection with younger men. And vice versa. The experience can enrich us both, making us better partners for people our own ages down the road.

*My viewpoint is from the perspective of a heterosexual woman, because I am one. But change the gender identification and/or sexual orientation to whatever works for you and let me know if the same advice holds true. Thank you.