Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and the founder of Lean In has launched Women In The Workplace, a study that looks at the state of women in corporate America.
The study, which was released last week, is an ongoing partnership between Lean In and McKinsey & Company. It revealed the challenges that women in the corporate field face within the workplace. The study shows a persistent pay gap, an uneven playing field for female employees, a lack of commitment to gender diversity from corporations, and that women face “greater barriers to advancement and a steeper path to senior leadership.”
Given the results of the study, Sandberg argues that at this rate it would take a 100 years to achieve gender equality in the business world if policy and cultural changes are not made.
“When women get stuck, corporate America gets stuck,” Sandberg told the Wall Street Journal. Women are less likely to reach leadership positions as they advance in their careers. Sandberg argues that this is because women have less access to mentorship and sponsorship in their careers. Stereotypes and biases that disadvantage women have also contributed to inequalities in the workplace.
This study seeks to encourage women in positions of leadership by getting as many companies as possible to participate. Doing so gives room for comparison amongst companies themselves. It also pushes them to measure their progress towards gender equality. At the time this study was done, a reported 118 companies had participated.
Sandberg remarked that diversity is important for better performance within organizations. She reports that it increases creativity, profits and innovation among other things. However, as the study shows, gender diversity is not a top priority for the leadership of many companies which hurts women’s careers in these work environments.
To make gender equality a reality, Sandberg believes corporations need to give this issue the urgency it deserves. The Women in the Workplace study not only provides statistical data on the inequality companies possess but also provides realistic measures companies can undertake to address the issue. For instance, the study suggests that companies develop programs that help employees identify bias and stereotypes that disadvantage women.
Despite the current rate of change in the corporate workplace, Sandberg is optimistic. “We will achieve not just a stronger and more successful workplace, but also increased economic growth and benefits for all our workers and families,” said Sandberg, reflecting on the many positive benefits of gender equality in the workplace.
Over the years Sandberg’s work on gender equality in the workforce has been very significant. In her capacity as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook Incorporated, Sandberg has pushed for better wages and benefits for contracted employees: a move that would largely benefit women workers.
Media Resources: Wall Street Journal 9/30/15; Women In The Workplace Report; Feminist Majority Foundation 5/13/15