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Bentley on Bloomberg: Preparing Tomorrow’s Women Leaders
It’s 2017 but women still struggle to advance through the corporate pipeline. McKinsey’s 2016 Women in the Workplace study reports that the number of women ascending the company ladder is smaller as they climb each step, with women making up 46 percent of entry-level positions but only 19 percent of C-suite positions.
Whether it’s a lack of role models, nonexistent corporate policy or general bias, organizations and higher education need to come together to put the right programs in place to better prepare tomorrow’s women leaders for the workplace.
Bentley President Gloria Larson joined Bloomberg Radio’s Carol Massar and Cory Johnson, along with guest experts, to talk about how higher education is putting leadership programs in place to better prepare young women and how companies are changing their policies to advance women because they know it will benefit their bottom line.
To solve the problem, start on college campuses
“Though I’ve had a rewarding career, I’ve had a front row seat for almost four decades watching the women’s confidence and aspiration to reach top management decline as they progress in their careers. According to a 2016 study from Bain and Co. and LinkedIn, women not only enter the workforce with less confidence and lower aspirations for top management than men, but the gap persists as they reach mid-career. It is our job as educators to offer programs that provide diversity and leadership training now while their confidence and ambitions are high.”
Colleges must partner directly with corporations
“With our unique position on a college campus, we have the opportunity at Bentley’s Center for Women and Business to empower students with important skills and knowledge before they enter the workforce. We are partnering with corporations and organizations that have a mutual mission to advance women’s leadership so we can better understand what these organizations want from our graduates and best prepare students for what lies ahead. Bentley recently received a generous grant from Liberty Mutual to be the founding partner of our new Women’s Leadership Program to expand these efforts. Our students will gain the essential skills and experiences that enhance their potential to advance into leadership roles across all areas of business through workshops, mentoring and corporate visits.”
Men must be involved, too
“Our employees must reflect the values and diversity of our clients, customers and the communities we serve. Without the diverse insight that employees bring from a wide range of backgrounds, we will be limited in our ability to successfully innovate and compete in the global marketplace. In our efforts to strengthen gender diversity at Liberty Mutual, we recognize that men also need to be included in the conversation. If women are working to combat these issues in a silo, we will never change the current culture. We are creating programs where all employees can build diversity and inclusion skills to shape and strengthen our efforts.”
Pursue diversity as an industry, not just as a company
“When Biogen started its work on diversity, we were one of just two biotech companies that had a formalized program. Today, our peers have come to realize that the best way to tackle issues around diversity and gender inclusion in the biotech space are as an industry. In just the past year, we have assisted over seven companies and organizations in launching their diversity efforts. Over the past five years, Biogen has gone from 11 percent women at the vice president or higher level to 46 percent and from 35 percent to 43 percent at the director level. We are getting close to the elusive gender parity.”
Alison Davis-Blake, the former business school dean at the Universities of Michigan and Minnesota, was inaugurated as the eighth president of Bentley University in a ceremony attended by students, faculty, staff, alumni and other members of the extended Bentley community.