Bridging the Gap: 7 Signs Your Organization has a Broken Rung

WeQual’s new Rising Leaders program supports, connects and elevates women at mid-management level to build diversity throughout organizations.

Imagine a state-of-the-art skyscraper where the elevators only work for some. Those with a special invisible elevator pass and can ride smoothly to the top, while others are forced to take an arduous climb up the stairs, encountering locked doors and dead ends on their journey.   

This is what it’s like to be a woman in today’s business world.  

For every woman CEO, there are a staggering number of male CEOs named Richard or David. In fact, there are more Fortune 500 CEOs named John than there are women CEOs in total.

The thing is, organizations with diverse leadership teams not only perform better financially, but also report higher employee satisfaction and contribute more positively to environmental sustainability. Here are the statistics. 

Financial Performance

According to a study by McKinsey & Company, companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25% more likely to have above-average profitability compared to companies in the bottom quartile for gender diversity.  

“The speaker was very inspiring, and she provided us with a lot of insights and things that we need to explore. Different leaders give us different insights and it's great that we have a variety of leaders sharing each session. I enjoy each session so thank you!”

Caecilia Montrado State Manager Home Lending, Regional NSW and ACT, Westpac 

Employee Satisfaction

Employee satisfaction tends to be higher in organizations that prioritize diversity. A report by Deloitte shows that inclusive companies are twice as likely to meet or exceed their financial targets, six times more likely to be innovative and agile, and eight times more likely to achieve better business outcomes. Additionally, Gallup found that employee engagement, which directly impacts job satisfaction, increases by 39% in workplaces that actively promote and value diversity.

Environmental Sustainability

Research from the Harvard Business Review shows that companies with more women on their boards are better at managing environmental risks and reducing pollution. These companies tend to focus more on sustainability, often investing in renewable energy and improving resource efficiency. This is likely because diverse perspectives lead to fuller, more innovative conversations and approaches.

The Broken Rung

So, why does this disconnection still exist? 

The Broken Rung. If you’re not familiar with the term, this refers to a phenomenon where women are disproportionately overlooked at the critical first step up in management positions. While men cruise through the ranks with ease, this invisibility creates a bottleneck for women. And guess what? If women aren’t moving up from lower management positions, diversity stagnates throughout the rest of the organization, too.  

Here are some signs your organization might need help. 

7 Signs Your Business is Suffering from a Broken Rung:

1 – Skewed Gender Ratios in Leadership Roles If your executive team has noticeably fewer women, this could be a sign of systemic barriers. Studies show that women hold only 8% of CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. This imbalance is a clear indicator that the first step to management is inaccessible to many women in your organization.

2 – High Woman Attrition at Mid-Management Levels If women in mid-management positions are leaving at higher rates than their male counterparts, it’s a sign of a broken rung. Research shows women are 20% less likely to be promoted to management positions than men, leading to frustration and higher turnover rates among talented women.

3 – Low Female Succession Rates Look at your succession planning—if there are few women in line for senior leadership roles, it suggests significant barriers in your promotion practices. A McKinsey study found that women make up 48% of entry-level hires but only 38% of managers.

4 – Limited Diversity in Leadership Development Programs If your leadership programs aren’t attracting a diverse group of participants, it could be due to unintentional biases or lack of support structures. Remember, diverse teams are 33% more likely to outperform their less diverse counterparts, so it’s in your interest to make diversity a priority throughout your organization.

5 – Feedback and Promotion Biases If your performance reviews and promotions tend to favor men over women, implicit biases may be at play. For example, women are often assessed based on their past performance, while men are judged on their potential, which can lead to disparities in who advances and who is left behind.

6 – Lack of Gender-Specific Mentoring and Sponsorship A study by Catalyst found that people with mentors are more likely to get promoted. However, due to the nature of sponsees finding sponsors through networks and word-of-mouth, women often miss out on this opportunity. If women lack access to mentors or sponsors, they miss out on key career guidance and opportunities.

7 – Inequitable Leadership Training Opportunities When leadership training isn’t tailored to address the unique challenges faced by women, it perpetuates a cycle where women are less prepared for advancement. Tailored training programs can significantly enhance women’s readiness for leadership roles. 

Enter WeQual Rising Leaders—a program designed to repair this broken rung and ensure women not only reach management but are primed to enrich their current role or excel and advance further.

“Having the main speaker join the whole session so they can also share their thoughts on our own learnings was fantastic.”

Neva Santos Global Head, Client Reporting, Partners Group Holding AG 

How WeQual Rising Leaders Can Help

WeQual Rising Leaders is designed to bridge these gaps. By focusing on empowering women through targeted support and development, the program provides a full-spectrum leadership experience. It provides women with the necessary tools, skills, and support systems to overcome the barriers to their advancement and excel at what they do. The program offers a comprehensive 12-month journey involving live interviews, masterclasses, coaching, and networking sessions tailored to overcome the challenges faced by women in management.

What’s Involved?

Rising Leaders isn’t just another training program; it’s designed to transform and enrich every individual’s leadership experience. Participants attend monthly virtual sessions that cover essential leadership skills, from building resilience to strategic decision-making. The program is designed to be global, running across multiple time zones to ensure accessibility for all participants. 

Making an Impact

Global giants like Westpac have already benefited from the program, seeing a noticeable increase in the diversity and effectiveness of their leadership teams. These organizations have reported not only improved business performance but also enhanced workplace culture and employee satisfaction.  

Join WeQual

If these signs resonate with your organizational experience, join us at an upcoming Q&A session or book a discovery call to learn how WeQual Rising Leaders can tailor a solution for your organization’s specific needs. Together, we can transform your business from the core. 

For more information, visit Rising Leaders or contact us at info@wequal.com. 

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