Where are we in advancing women’s careers and what more can we do?

Career advancement has a ripple effect that can impact women’s quality of life. This advancement empowers financial independence, helps support work-life balance and fosters personal development. For credit unions, ensuring all employees receive the support they need to advance goes hand-in-hand with our industry’s mission of “financial well-being for all.” Despite this desire to advance our employees, research shows that women still lag behind men in both wages and leadership positions in the workplace. Combatting this inequality requires knowledge and understanding of what improvements have been made, what areas still need to be addressed and what solutions can be effectively applied.

Despite advances in gender wage disparities, Payscale shows an 18% gap remains. Parental status and unemployment contribute to this gap since women often receive lower salaries than men when they have children or take non-education breaks from the workforce. The data shows the gender wage gap is a challenge that still needs to be actively addressed. To tackle the wage gap, more companies are reviewing employee salaries and publishing salary reports internally to foster greater accountability.

Awareness of imbalances in pay is a good place to start, but wage improvement goes hand in hand with women’s advancement. Men tend to receive more promotions than women. At age 45 and older, more men (55%) have risen to leadership roles while only 40% of women have gained those opportunities, according to Payscale. This disparity begins at the manager level. According to McKinsey & Company, 87 women are promoted to manager positions for every 100 men. Steps that eliminate barriers to advancement and steady employment can go further to improve the wage gap and women’s quality of life.

Stereotypes block the advancement of women

Gender stereotypes are consistently pinpointed as a substantial barrier to women’s advancement. Stereotypes about gender roles can result in women performing undervalued, supportive work that doesn’t give them opportunities to display their full talents or grow their leadership skills and networks. Stereotypes that women are more risk-averse than men can give employers pause when making promotion decisions; yet new studies are putting a fresh light on this accepted fact. According to Harvard Business Review, impact investment firms with higher numbers of women in top management roles exhibit greater risk-taking, suggesting women tend to take bigger “social risks” and push the envelope in areas of environmental, social and governance performance that have positive impacts on long-term financial performance.


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