A Survey Suggests Organizations Not Doing Enough to Help Women Advance to Leadership Positions

Women are concerned their employers are not doing enough to close the gender gap in leadership positions, according to a new survey of women in the workforce by Skillsoft, a global leader in learning and talent management.

In the report, nearly all (90 percent) of the 450 women across the globe who participated in the survey cited there are a disproportionate number of males in leadership positions at work. More than half of the respondents (54 percent) stated it’s important for their organizations to offer leadership training specific to women, but nearly 70 percent of women believe their employers do not provide adequate resources and support to help them drive their careers forward.

The respondents’ perceptions mirror the current state of women in corporate leadership globally. In the United States, women hold more than half of all professional-level jobs, yet comprise only five percent of Fortune 500 CEOs. In most European countries, women comprise less than 20 percent of all corporate boards and women represent just six percent of corporate boards in Asia. 

“The lack of women in leadership positions is not because women are not capable of hard work, strategic thinking and management – it’s that boardrooms have not made a mixed gender leadership pipeline a priority,” said Priti Shah, vice president of leadership product strategy and corporate development at Skillsoft.

To hone in on women’s leadership development, organizations must acknowledge the key factors inhibiting women’s career progression. Skillsoft’s study demonstrates that work-life balance is the top concern for 63 percent of women. Competing priorities, like domestic responsibilities, often limit the amount of time women have to develop into leaders within their organization, according to a recent Eudemonia study, “It’s About Time: Developing Women for Business Leadership.”

“Companies must cultivate the ongoing culture of respect for people’s time, recognize the deeply-ingrained challenges women face and start to realistically enable their advancement,” said Christa Degnan Manning, Founder at Eudemonia, a research and advisory firm focused on workforce support. “There can be a myriad of factors that go into creating company cultures supportive of productivity and advancing women. Only when we begin implementing formal development programs that make routine practice of reviewing key leadership concepts can we then engage peers, mentors and sponsors across company networks to finally move the needle on the number of women in executive and board positions worldwide.”

This year, Skillsoft announced the Women in Action leadership program, the industry's first learning program designed to help women across the workforce build specific competencies and immediately apply newly-acquired skills. The new program enables Skillsoft customers to deliver ongoing learning opportunities for women at all levels of an organization, whether they are emerging leaders or hold positions in senior-level management.

“It is so important for industry leaders like Skillsoft to equip our customers with tools that can help all members of the workforce reach their potential,” Shah said. “Though we’re starting to see more event-based development opportunities for women, a continuous approach to developing leadership competencies is also crucial for organizations to build gender parity in leadership positions.”

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