Women now make up 46% of the US civilian labor force and of the top management occupations, women only account for 27% in executive management positions1.   With such a strongly disproportional representation in senior management, is your company doing what it can to promote women to management positions?  Retaining female talent may require less than one may think.

According to United Kingdom survey of over 10,000 senior executives, women are less likely than men to apply for a senior position within a company that has rejected them for a similar role in the past2.  Women, unlike most men, tend to believe that they are not a good fit once rejected and in turn, make them feel less qualified for a C-suite position.  This may mean that your company is losing key female leaders before they even apply for an open management position.  Many companies seek a diverse candidate pool but when it comes to ensuring your company is not losing internal female talent the London Business School recommends:

Being Proactive – Develop, maintain and refresh company hiring policies that seek to increase female representation in management positions.  Reflect on how you recruit your internal candidates.  Are you marketing positions to your entire organization? One should not rely on the best candidate to apply for the open position.

Communication — When companies make an investment in information transparency, such as a performance recognition program or in annual total rewards statements, employees are able to better understand their position, the company, their career path and the investment of the company into their personal successes.  When reviewing your internal candidates for management positions, ensure there is a formal feedback process that gives your employees clarification of the company’s’ decision.  No one likes rejection but it’s easier to take when one knows the reason why.

Standardize the Process – Similar to reviewing your company’s communication strategies, standardization of the selection process will set expectations and contribute to the transparency of your company’s policies.


1 US Department of Labor
2 Kathy Gurchiek, “Helping Women Get to the Top”, HR Magazine May 2017: 12