Women Are Asking for Promotions, But Men Keep Getting Them

Women Are Asking for Promotions, But Men Keep Getting Them

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(Bloomberg) — Women want to be leaders in the workplace, but employers are still passing them by in favor of their male counterparts.

For every 100 men promoted to a manager role in 2022, only 87 women received the same boost, according to the Women in the Workplace report by Sheryl Sandberg’s LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. The number of women promoted inched up from 86 in 2021, but they’re still getting overlooked despite asking for promotions at the same rate as men, the survey found.

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One reason for the gap: the way men and women tend to receive their promotions. “We promote men based on potential and women have to have already proven it to you,” Sandberg said in an interview. “You can’t prove you can be a manager until you’re a manager.”

The numbers are even worse for Black women, who are being promoted at the lowest rate in at least five years compared with men. Only 54 Black women were promoted last year for every 100 men, down from 96 in 2021, according to the report, which started tracking respondents’ race in 2018. The number is now closer to the 58 seen in 2018 and 2019, before the Black Lives Matter protests prompted much of corporate America to promise to hire more people of color.

The report, based on research from 276 companies in the US and Canada and including a survey of more than 27,000 employees from 33 firms, found that men also benefited disproportionately from in-office work compared with women.

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“Men report when they are on-site that they get more mentorship and sponsorship than women. They feel more ‘in the know,’” said Rachel Thomas, co-founder and CEO of LeanIn.Org.

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If that’s already happening when everyone’s in the office, the challenge will be to make sure it doesn’t happen on an even broader scale in a hybrid work environment. Thomas suggested companies need to better train managers to evaluate workers on flexible schedules, and that performance reviews need to be redesigned to emphasize results, not when and where work is done.

“The perception that it’s women who are lazy, who are disgruntled, that it’s women who are demanding flexibility rather than how that flexibility can fuel ambition is really unfortunate,” said Sandberg, the former chief operating officer of Meta Platforms Inc. 

The report found that women are more ambitious than before the pandemic, with about 80% saying they’d like a promotion compared with 70% in 2019. 

—With assistance from Kelsey Butler.

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