How businesses can keep women on the management ladder

According to talent management consultancy DDI there are seven most effective steps organisations can take to help end gender discrimination at work and keep women moving up the career leader.

The advice is released following the recent launch of DDI’s research, Holding Women Back, which showed that women face gender discrimination barriers long before they reach the glass ceiling.

While the amount of development in general increases with each management level, the proportion of women receiving it decreases.

Mary-Rose Lines, a senior consultant at DDI UK, comments;

“Diversity is a serious business issue that has an impact on the bottom line. These actions will ensure businesses are doing all they can to stop women being held back at work and should be driven from the executive level. But it is also important for women to make their career ambitions known and actively seek-out opportunities to develop and increase their skills.”

The seven steps organisations can take to help women progress further identified by DDI are;



  • Formalise succession planning, as those organisations that make formal plans to replace senior staff have more women in senior positions

  • Recognise performance equally to help close the continuing pay gap

  • Give women equal access to training and other opportunities

  • Provide women with mentors, whether formally or informally, which will help encourage female managers to proactively seek opportunities and broaden their horizons

  • Make sure female employees have access to international opportunities or international remits in their job. There are still assumptions women will not want opportunities abroad, despite the excellent development this provides. Men are more than twice as likely as women to receive multinational leadership responsibilities. In addition, it has been noted that workers with families can be more successful on expatriate assignments

  • Ensure support during promotion or role change is effective and applied equitably – women are receiving even less help during these transitions than men

  • Make HR policies family-friendly.

Holding Women Back analyses data from over 10,000 business leaders across the globe, including 3,800 women.

It finds that;



  • Across the globe, women are more likely to fall off the management ladder before reaching the top.

  • In industries dominated by men, most women fall off the management ladder well before reaching executive level, with just 7 per cent of women at this level

  • In situations where the gender balance is even among first-time managers, still only just over a third of senior or executive level employees are women.

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