The growing evidence for the fact that more gender-equity in the workplace is not only common sense, but also good business has become almost indisputable. Businesses are still slow in learning that lesson, however, as they fail to adapt workplace conditions in such a way that qualified women do not drop off the corporate ladder. An extensive study by the consultancy group McKinsey, surveying 366 companies, showed businesses that are more gender-balanced in their leadership reported financial returns above their national industry median. They’re also better at recruiting and retaining talented workers, have stronger customer relations and tend to make better business decisions. The survey also found, however, that programs to increase gender diversity aren’t working — a women’s prospect for a promotion decreases at every step up the career ladder. Since board quotas would only affect the very final leg of a career, the real challenge for businesses is to hire, train and promote more women. This might be a slow process, though, as a lot of it has to do with deeply ingrained social views. A Harvard Business School study released in December showed that while men and women start out with similar career goals, institutional hurdles and the demands of spouses to manage family responsibilities slow the progress for women. There’s still a lot of work to be done.
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