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Women Leaders Miss Out on Core Development Experiences

DDI, a global leadership company, commemorates International Women’s Day with a new data analysis on women in leadership. The data, drawn from DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2023 with responses from 1,826 human resource professionals and 13,695 leaders across the world—including over 4,000 women leaders—dives into advancement opportunities for women in the workplace and the impact of women leaders on include.  

Key findings can be found below.  

  • More women leaders support a more inclusive environment. Organizations with an above-average proportion of women leaders are nearly twice as likely to be rated as having an inclusive culture than those with fewer women.  
  • Fewer women receive formal mentors. On average, only 24% of women leaders have had a formal mentor, compared to 30% of men. This gap widens at the senior leadership level, where only 27% of women have had a formal mentor (compared to 38% of men).  
  • Women miss opportunities for key executive responsibilities. Women leaders are less likely to be given profit and loss (P&L) responsibility, a crucial steppingstone for advancing into C-suite roles. Among men at the senior executive and C-suite level, 79% had managed a P&L function, However, only 67% of executive and C-suite women leaders reported having P&L responsibility.  
  • Women lag in receiving critical development support. In their current role, women were 12% less likely than men to receive leadership skills training and 15% less likely to be assessed to gain insights on their strengths and development gaps as a leader. Lacking this support, especially in vulnerable moments such as transitions to a new leadership role, threatens leaders’ long-term engagement and success.  
  • Inclusion benefits everyone. In male-dominated companies, men are more likely than women to recognize a lack of inclusivity. In these organizations, 39% of men say their culture is not inclusive of different perspectives. Meanwhile, only 24% of women say the same. By contrast, in organizations with greater than the average number of women leaders, only 22% of men say their culture isn’t inclusive.  

“Our research shows the business case for developing, advancing, and retaining women leaders couldn’t be stronger,” says Tacy M. Byham, CEO of DDI. “Women leaders are driving more inclusive cultures and stronger financial performance for their organizations, yet the problem of women’s disproportionately low representation at the top persists. Our data reveals many women are not getting the leadership development support they need to progress and are turning elsewhere, with women 1.5 times more likely to leave their companies to advance their careers than men. To avoid losing out on this valuable talent, companies need to turn their attention toward creating workplaces that enable women to thrive.”  

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