Overcoming Barriers to Leadership for Young Women

The Conference Board of Canada, 15 pages, December 2013
Briefing by Naoko Hawkins
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There is a persistent, unconscious doubt about the ability of young women to take on leadership roles in their organizations. This briefing suggests that talent assessment practices should be more objective and transparent to guard against unconscious bias and to ensure that the best talent is identified and developed, regardless of gender.

Document Highlights

By focusing on overt prejudice, up to now studies and policies have overlooked a major reason for the limited number of women in the upper echelons of organizations: unconscious bias about the abilities of young women to take on leadership roles. This unconscious bias begins from the outset of women’s careers—and the effects are cumulative.

This briefing offers tips for how organizations can make their talent management practices more objective and transparent in order to guard against unconscious bias. Organizations that leverage their talent management processes better will ensure that top talent is identified and developed. By doing so, they will also be able to engage and retain their workforce, thereby improving business outcomes.

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