It’s 2016 and opportunities for women in the workplace have improved, right?
A new report from McKinsey & Co. and Lean In, the organization founded by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, shows that women are still struggling to advance. For every 100 women promoted past entry level positions, 130 men are promoted. Women are less likely to receive challenging assignments, participate in meetings and have access to senior leaders. And the pipeline of promotion shows women are being passed over at every stage (men and women are dropping out of the workplace at equal rates, so the numbers can’t be blamed on attrition):
To compile its study, McKinsey used data from 132 US companies, representing 4.6 million workers at companies like Visa, General Motors and Proctor & Gamble. It also conducted a survey of 34,000 employees to get a more nuanced view of their experiences at work.
The survey revealed that more women then men asked for a raise, 29% to 27%, but that in response, 30% of women were told that they were being “bossy,” “aggressive,” or “intimidating,” compared to 23% of men.
Women also say they receive less feedback from managers than men. While 46% of men say they receive difficult feedback, only 36% of women do. Managers say the biggest reason they fail to give women feedback is a fear of being mean or hurtful.
The results are even starker for women of color, who reported seeing fewer opportunities than white women across the board.
There’s an increasing body of evidence that gender equity is achieved not by creating what appear to be gender neutral policies, but by companies actively working to make sure their procedures are free of bias and give women equal opportunities. Employers should rethink how they advertise positions, how they screen resumes and how they interview to ensure they’re free of unconscious bias, says Iris Bohnet, a behavioral economist at Harvard, in her book What Works.
Notably, less than half of the companies McKinsey examined require diverse slates of candidates for hiring and promotion, and only 56% review job descriptions to ensure they’re free of biased language. One easy procedure to weed out biases in hiring is using blind resume reviews—removing names and other details from resumes that indicate gender and race—but only 4% of companies say they do that.
If the study reveals how much work is left to be done to create gender equality in the workplace, the good news is that so much of that work is not complicated or difficult, and many firms are already doing it.