As a diversity and inclusion consulting company, we spend a lot of time talking about the importance of having a strong representation of traditionally underrepresented groups in the workplace, i.e., women and people of color. That’s the diversity part. The inclusion part means listening to these groups and including them in the decision-making process, especially at top levels like executive positions and board memberships.
Looking specifically at women, we can say that over the years, some progress has been made. In an article for FiveThirtyEight, Kathryn Casteel and Kara Chin take a look back at the 1970 mass protests to mark the 50th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. The strike had three primary goals: equal opportunity at work and in education, a right to medical support for abortion and free 24-hour child care. Let’s stick with the first. “In 1970, women made up only 38 percent of the paid labor force, and that share was even smaller in many of the best-paid industries,” write Casteel and Chin. “Women have narrowed the workforce-participation gap significantly over the past four and a half decades. Forty-seven percent of the labor force is now women … But women are still underrepresented in executive suites and in many of the most highly paid professions. Just 27 percent of chief executives are women, along with 38 percent of surgeons and 23 percent of computer programmers, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
A recent article in the New York Times by Claire Cain Miller, Kevin Quealy and Margot Sanger-Katz really drives home the statistic about chief executives. The article looks at a number of disparities in industries and professions ranging from finance, law and politics to business. One eye-opening stat is that there are fewer women among chief executives of Fortune 500 companies than there are men named John.
Think about that: fewer women on corporate boards than there are men named John. Wow. In other words, we still have a long way to go.
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