Diversity is a critical component of leadership. Study after study has shown that groups who are comprised of diverse individuals perform better, generate better results for their teams/companies, and feel better about their work. In addition, a team who takes advantage of the full range of talent available, not just the talent that looks/thinks/acts like “me”, will have a distinct competitive advantage over others. Plus diversity makes for a much more interesting work and life environment.
The statistics are startling. According to a 2016 report by Catalyst.org women make up 46.8% of the US workforce, hold 51.5% of management positions, but hold only 4.4% of Fortune 500 CEO positions, and make up only 19.9% of corporate board seats. I don’t know about you, but to me that seems incredible! What is going on?
I have become so interested in this question that I have chosen to study this for my doctoral dissertation. I want to at least get one step closer to an answer and perhaps even find some solutions for fixing the situation.
As you might imagine, I have asked many people for their opinions and insights into the matter, and the answers are quite fascinating. I asked a good friend of mine (male, white, 50+) what he thought the explanation was for the absence of women at the top of the organizational ladder. He absolutely insists that the fault lies in the ambition of women – that women just do not want the job at the top. He does not see this as a negative, but simply a reality of life. He is not alone in this belief – I have heard it many times, often from people of the same demographic group as my friend.
I have looked into the academic research on this, and in a later post I will include some of the articles I have found. I cannot, even after extensive research, find a study that shows this to be the case. In one study from political science it was shown that women were recruited for political office much less frequently than men. This is not the same as ambition. Another study has shown that simply changing the name on a resume from female to male immediately alters the odds that a person will get an interview. Again, nothing to do with ambition.
I firmly believe that ambition has nothing to do with the problem. We need to look elsewhere, and I will do so in later posts.
Keep it positive and smile 🙂