ARTICLE: Why Men Get Promoted on What Could Be, While Women Still Have to Show Their Work
We all know the gender gap in leadership roles, the broken rungs. When it comes to promotions, for every 100 men who get promoted to their first manager job, only 72 women do. Recent research shows an unconscious bias toward men based on their potential, with women left feeling they need to prove their performance, and this continues to snowball the gender pay gap. How can women and leaders correct this?
Women—give yourselves permission to apply: Women tend to avoid applying to positions where they don’t satisfy all the requirements and apply 20% less to a job posting than men overall. Women need to give themselves permission to assume that qualifications are negotiable, while men have a default perception that everything is negotiable—including qualifications. Additionally, women within organizations often feel they have to prove they can do the job above them before they get promoted or compensated for that work.
Leaders—edit your shortlists: Unfortunately, it's usually only during a crisis that women get promoted to C-Suite roles. Companies need to think about women as candidates all the time, both in times of prosperity and difficulty. Leaders in the room can help combat quick decisions made in a fast-moving market by expanding shortlists to include more than one woman, which has proven to increase the likelihood of a woman getting hired for the role.
Leaders—define the role: Systematically define what success looks like and what qualities an outstanding candidate might bring to the position. Carefully evaluate criteria to make sure it doesn’t knock out candidates you want on the list. For instance, a lot of women had to take some kind of break over the last couple of years, but a qualification requiring an unbroken five years of experience might weed out great candidates. When these women were at home for a year, they were doing all sorts of stuff that shows incredible resilience, creativity, leadership, and high management skills.
By promoting women based on their potential — not just their performance — leaders can help fix the stagnant pipeline problem and create a more equitable organization at every level.