Paper Recommends Strategies to Limit Barriers to Women in Leadership

A new white paper from consulting firm Oliver Wyman focuses on gender-specific obstacles to top executive positions and how institutions can tackle these barriers to achieve a more diverse leadership suite.  The authors note that many corporations are “still wired around an old model that was built in an environment when the vast majority of employees were men. By not shifting the leadership model more explicitly, we are letting the old “norms” de-select the very leaders and styles we are seeking to grow — and making the journey to leadership more challenging for women.” The authors spoke with over 160 with women, including women who “broke through” those barriers. The paper describes two drivers as pivotal to women reaching executive roles despite barriers: hard-to-find sponsors leveling the playing field and certain innate personality traits. The authors note that the progress women have made getting into top leadership has been skewed toward narrowly defined conditions and personality traits, excluding a large percentage of very talented women who get “stuck” on the path to senior leadership. The paper suggests a number of recommendations, including treating inclusion and diversity like a business, doubling down on sponsorship of women, and firms being more purposeful about how leaders are developed and assessed against inclusive criteria. Meanwhile, lawmakers on the House Committee on Financial Services sent requests to the nation’s 31 largest investment firms—those with $400 billion or more of assets under management—for data on their diversity and inclusion. The requests are part of a longstanding effort to hold the financial services sector accountable and provide the American public with a complete picture of how financial firms are meeting their commitments to diversity and inclusion, the committee said in a release. The lawmakers requested information about each institution’s diversity and inclusion data and policies from 2016 through the present, including workforce and board diversity; spending with diverse suppliers, including the use of diverse asset management firms; and challenges implementing diversity and inclusion policies and practices.