Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, believes that it will take women a century to achieve gender equality in the C-suite.
“Our research reveals that despite modest improvements since 2012, women remain underrepresented at every corporate level,” she wrote in a new op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. “And it turns out the drop-off in senior ranks is not mainly due to attrition.” The reason, she added, is “more barriers to advancement.”
Roughly three-quarters of the companies surveyed by Sandberg’s LeanIn.org and McKinsey & Co. said that gender diversity was a “top-three or top-ten priority” for their company’s CEO. But the 30,000 men and women questioned as part of the survey didn’t agree; only 37 percent of women said that gender diversity was the CEO’s top priority, compared with 49 percent of men.
In the same survey, only 18 percent of women employees said gender diversity was a top priority of their male co-workers, compared with 22 percent of men. Some 44 percent of women, and 33 percent of men, said gender diversity was their top priority in the workplace.
“If employees see real, measurable gender inequities in their organization, they will be more likely to work toward solutions,” Sandberg added. “Implementing training so employees learn how to identify and counteract gender bias is critical, especially for managers, who shape the day-to-day work experience of most employees.”
Numerous tech companies are voicing concerns about employee diversity. Slack, Apple, Google, Twitter, and others have all released diversity reports over the past few years, while their CEOs collectively bemoan what they perceive as an imbalance in their internal demographics.
“Our primary goal is to avoid becoming yet another place where underrepresented groups exit the technology industry,” read Slack’s recent posting on the matter. “While much focus has been on the pipeline, we understand that increasing the diversity of applicants and new hires will not result in any significant change if people from underrepresented groups cannot thrive at the company.”
But will increased gender diversity take 100 years to achieve, as Sandberg suggests?