Research - 28.08.2019 - 00:00

65 percent of promotions awarded to men

Companies with a balanced gender distribution at all hierarchical levels are more successful. Enshrining and implementing this strategically is a challenge at which only a few succeed. This is illustrated by the Advance & HSG Gender Intelligence Report 2019, which analysed the records of 263,000 employees.

28 August 2019. Companies based in Switzerland are recruiting more and more women at all levels. The pipeline of highly qualified female talent also continues to grow. Women and men also leave their employers with similar frequency. This shows that organisational cultures are becoming more attractive for women and their careers. However, this growing potential is not yet being used systematically enough across all hierarchical levels: While the gender distribution in non-executive positions might be 50-50, the proportion of women in middle management drops significantly to 23%, and further to only 18% in top positions. 

Overlooked for internal promotions

Women are left standing particularly when it comes to internal promotions: around 65% of all promotions are given to men. The study also clearly sees more transparent promotion processes as the key to increased gender diversity across the entire hierarchy. It notes that unconscious bias should have as little influence as possible in this regard. The authors also highlight good examples: companies with the best results have well over 30% female executives. 

Another obstacle to breaking the glass ceiling is the traditional distribution of roles against the backdrop of the prevailing full-time standard. The average employment rate is clearly lowest among Swiss women. In concrete terms, this means that women must be able to increase their employment rate (for example, with flexible working models) to have a chance of entering management positions, since the prevailing norm in management entails full-time or near-full-time workloads. At the same time, men should be encouraged and enabled to assume their share of non-occupational responsibilities. Ultimately, equality can only be achieved if women and men make an equal contribution.

The report’s key recommendations
According to the study, companies that are members of Advance offer more favourable conditions for women's career development. In doing so, they further expand the pipeline of female talent. Their female/male employment rates are also more equal than those of non-Advance firms. "Organisations that succeed at gender diversity have adapted their corporate culture, processes and structures to support women's careers. We want to accelerate this learning curve throughout Switzerland. In addition, Advance supports talented women on their journey to the top with targeted skills development, mentoring and networking opportunities", says Alkistis Petropaki, General Manager of Advance. Prof. Dr. Gudrun Sander, Head of the Centre of Excellence for Diversity & Inclusion at the University of St.Gallen, stressed that: "It is important to make existing promotion processes more transparent and to make promotion decisions less dependent on direct superiors. Clear, regularly evaluated objectives are important in this regard. In addition, managers must actively help female talent to achieve greater visibility and attention and conduct regular career discussions".

Key findings and full report with detailed best practice case studies:

Photo: pixabay / Gerd Altmann