To achieve equality, companies must turn good intentions into concrete action.


That was the rallying cry from McKinsey and’s 2018 Women in the Workplace report – the largest, most comprehensive study of women in corporate America to date.

The report unveils sobering results about the progress we’re making towards an equal workplace.


Companies report that they are highly committed to gender diversity. But that commitment has not translated into meaningful progress. The proportion of women at every level in corporate America has hardly changed. Progress isn’t just slow. It’s stalled.


Why is that?


Just 1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a woman. And for the fourth year in a row a lack of diversity in senior roles can’t be explained by attrition – women aren’t leaving the workplace at a rate any faster than their male counterparts.


According to McKinsey, companies are disadvantaging women from the very beginning. Despite our best efforts, we’re still not hiring or promoting women in an inclusive way – which is “having a profound impact on the talent pipeline”.


What’s more, the situation is worse for women of colour and lesbian women. And issues like everyday sexism and racism in the form of microaggressions are disadvantaging everyone in the workplace.


What to do about it?


McKinsey recommend 6 critical actions companies should take to move the needle on gender diversity:


1. Get the basics right—targets, reporting, and accountability.


2. Ensure that hiring and promotions are fair.


3. Make senior leaders and managers champions of diversity.


4. Foster an inclusive and respectful culture.


5. Make the Only experience rare.


6. Offer employees the flexibility to fit work into their lives.


McKinsey’s findings mirror our observations of what works when it comes to building a more inclusive culture.


While we see many organisations put critical processes into place to increase diversity in their workforce – using targets, restructures and changing their hiring processes – we see fewer organisations prioritise helping every person at every level understand what it truly means to be inclusive. And then put that inclusive behaviour into action.


If every person had a toolkit for challenging biased behaviour and practices when they saw them, companies could immediately take action on each of McKinsey’s six recommendations – and start hiring and promoting women and men to manager at equal rates.


According to Women in the Workplace, if we do that, we could get close to parity in management—48 percent women versus 52 percent men—over the next ten years. (Comparatively, if we don’t change the way we hire and promote, the number of women in management will improve by just 1 percentage point in the same time period.)


With the next round of gender pay gap for British companies less than 6 months away and with a median pay gap of 9.7% in the UK, it’s clear there is still work to do.


We’ve pulled together a summary of the most shocking statistics from the Women in the Workplace report as a reminder that now is the time to act and help everyone put change into action today.


Kaleidoscope from Hive Learning is a guided inclusion programme that gives leaders and managers a practical, action-based toolkit for being more inclusive everyday. We’re always looking for new programme advisors. If you think that could be you, get in touch:

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