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What You Need to Know about the Advancement of Women Leaders in 2020 | International Women’s Day

March 5, 2020 Emma Brooks
Woman takes notes at Linkage leadership conference

This Sunday, March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day, when we recognize the achievements of women across the globe, raise awareness against bias, and take action for equality. 

The theme for this year is #EachforEqual, meaning that collectively, each one of us can help create a gender-equal world. 

The race for gender equality is one that we have been running for decades, and in 2020, we are getting closer to our goal than ever before. 

What better time to recognize the strides women have made and acknowledge the work that still needs to be done than Women’s History Month, which we celebrate throughout the month of March? 

In honor of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, we’re sharing some hot topics and headlines that highlight how far we’ve come—and how far we still have to go. 

Women are making strides: Giants make Alyssa Nakken first female coach in MLB history

Women are making major strides in industries typically dominated by men. Look no further than Major League Baseball for evidence. For the first time in baseball history, a Major League Baseball team has named a woman as coach. In January, Alyssa Nakken became the first full-time female coach on a major league staff when she was named an assistant under San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler. She is a former softball standout at first base for Sacramento State, who joined the club in 2014 as an intern in baseball operations. She will partner with Mark Hallberg, also named an assistant coach, to work to promote high performance, along with a close-knit team atmosphere. 

Demographics are shifting: Women overtake men as majority of US workforce

For the first time in nearly a decade, women held more jobs in the US than men. The share of women on payrolls, excluding farmworkers and the self-employed, exceeded the share of men in December 2019 for the first time since mid-2010, US Labor Department data showed. Women held 50.04% of jobs last month, surpassing men on payrolls by 109,000. 

Take Action: Now that women are entering the workforce at higher rates than men, there is even greater urgency around the need to retain and advance women at equal rates to men. Make awareness of shifting demographic trends an integral part of your leadership development strategies, including a differentiated investment in the advancement of women leaders. 

Good intentions aren’t enough: Many organizations lack a strategy to back up their commitment to advancing women leaders

Linkage recently conducted a survey of leading organizations and uncovered some truly startling numbers. Despite a recent surge in interest in the advancement of women leaders and gender parity in the workplace, organizations continue to lack clear strategies, tangible action plans and target goals. More than half (53%) of all companies are intent on accelerating the advancement of women leaders, but 51% of organizations have not set targets to increase the number of women in leadership roles. 

Take Action: When it comes to the advancement of women leaders, good intentions aren’t enough to create real change. Organizations need to have a clear and defined strategy to advance women leaders, while also acknowledging the individual and organizational barriers that hold women back. 

Some progress, with a catch: Women’s share of US corporate board seats rises, but not top roles

Women gained seats on US corporate boards at a steady pace in recent years, but their share of top board leadership roles is still stuck at a low level, according to a new study from Equilar, a board intelligence research firm. Among the largest 500 publicly traded US companies by revenue, the share of female directors rose to 25.9% in 2019, up from 18.9% in 2015. The rise, which quickened last year, came as more companies disclose details on directors’ gender and race.

But, women’s representation in board leadership positions barely changed over the period, edging up to 7.5% from 7.4%, as women’s share of combined chief executive-chair jobs declined. The leadership figure also included women who were non-executive board chairs and lead independent directors. 

Take Action: Diverse gender representation on corporate boards is an important first step, but organizations must set tangible goals around gender parity for board leadership positions. Review your organization’s commitment to gender parity within both executive leadership and board positions and renew a commitment to advancing women at equal levels. 

Positive impact is possible: When it comes to retaining women leaders, executive involvement is key

Did you know that highly effective women leaders are 7x more likely to be found in organizations where executives creatively work to retain key female talent? Linkage research finds that the efforts of executives to get involved in the engagement, retention, and advancement of women leaders has a very real impact on whether organizations can attract and retain highly effective women leaders. 

In fact, organizations with executives who creatively work to retain key female talent report higher overall levels of effectiveness when it comes to their women leaders.  

Take Action: Understand the impact executive action has on the advancement of women leaders at your organization, then take meaningful steps to collect data on your women leaders. Identify your strengths and areas of opportunity for executive involvement.

How will you work to create a gender-equal world?

We hope you will join us in committing to the advancement of women in both your professional and personal life in 2020. We have made tremendous progress—just think how much further we can go, together!

Linkage’sAdvancing Women Leaders™solutionis a practical framework which enables organizations to attract, retain, develop, and advance women leaders at alllevels.We start by helping organizations establish benchmarks and strategies to advance their women leaders,then equipwomen leaders with a variety of development opportunities designed to meet their unique needs, andthenexpand impact by building a culture where women leaders can excel.

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