McKinsey sets out a global gender agenda

Barsh and Devillard are directors in McKinsey’s New York and Paris offices respectively. Wang is principal in the Shanghai office.

They suggest four-point shortlist of actions that should be on every committed leader’s priority list.

First, they say, business leaders need to treat gender diversity as they would any other strategic business initiative. Set goal and plan. Then monitor and follow it up at the highest levels over many years. 

“Build in ‘report or explain’ process and articulate well-supported point of view on the value women bring to your organization and the case for or against explicit targets.” 

Second, ask for, and talk about, the data, sliced and diced to identify ‘pain points’ in the pipeline by business, geography, and function. 

The McKinsey authors say it is important to go well beyond measuring success by the number of women at the top. “Discuss the percentage of talented women at each stage of the pipeline, their odds of advancement versus men’s, and the mix of women between line and staff jobs compared with that of their male counterparts.”

Third, establish culture of sponsorship, encouraging each top executive to sponsor two to three future leaders, including women. “Instill mindset of ‘paying it forward’, so that every woman sponsored will in turn sponsor two or three others.”

Finally, good leaders raise awareness of what diverse work environment looks like, celebrating successes to reinforce the mindset shifts they desire. They use frequent opportunities to communicate what they’re doing to drive change. 

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