Women in Leadership: Perceptions and Priorities for Change

The Conference Board of Canada, 41 pages, May 2013
Report by Donna Burnett Vachon, Carrie Lavis
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This report explores the enablers of women’s advancement from four perspectives—attitudes about women in management, opportunities for advancement, women’s advancement motivation, and women’s leadership abilities—and provides recommendations.

Document Highlights

Gender diversity in senior management is good for organizations: women’s presence at senior levels improves decision-making, operational and financial results, and other factors. Yet the number of women reaching these levels remains stagnant.

So how can organizations best enable women to reach senior management positions? This report examines this crucial question from four main perspectives—attitudes about women in management, opportunities for advancement, women’s advancement motivation, and women’s leadership abilities. Based on a national survey of men and women, and in-depth interviews with both emerging women leaders and women currently in the C-suite, the report highlights key enablers of women’s career advancement and provides recommendations to address barriers that remain in organizations.

This report provides a fresh perspective on the advancement of women based on the experiences of women—both those in the C-suite and those aspiring to climb the corporate ladder.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1—Introduction

Chapter 2—Attitudes About Women in Management

  • Women Are Still Seriously Under-Represented in Senior Management
  • Women’s Representation in the Leadership Pipeline
  • The Business Case for Women in Senior Management
  • Women’s Advancement—A Pressing Concern?
  • Are Men’s Attitudes Changing?
  • Enabling Change

Chapter 3—Opportunities and Support Systems

  • The Secrets of (Management) Success
  • Organizational Support
  • Leadership Development and Education
  • Do Women Have the Right Development Opportunities?
  • Mentors: Only Half of the Equation
  • Where Are the Sponsors?
  • Managing Talent

Chapter 4—Motivation to Advance

  • Career Aspirations Among Women and Men
  • How Do Women View Their Career Paths?
  • Juggling Career and Home Life
  • Work–Life Integration: Achievable Goal or Wishful Thinking?
  • The Realities of Biology

Chapter 5—Leadership Abilities and Competence

  • Are Men and Women Qualitatively Different as Leaders?
  • Leadership Competence
  • The Need to Outperform
  • Do Behavioural Norms Support Women’s Advancement?

Chapter 6—Conclusions and Recommendations

  • Governance
  • Leadership Development
  • Human Resources Management
  • Conclusion

Appendix A—Bibliography

Appendix B—Respondent Profile

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