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IBM sees gender gap persist till 2073, as 79% of organizations feign ignorance

A new study by IBM, “Women, Leadership, and the Priority Paradox,” polled 2,300 executives and professionals and revealed that the leadership gender gap in the global workplace continues to persist because organizations have yet to make advancing women a formal business priority.

The global study, conducted by IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) in cooperation with Oxford Economics, surveyed an equal number of women and men from organizations worldwide across multiple industries to better understand why a large gender disparity in the leadership ranks persists and what can be done to drive progress toward gender equality. In addition to the qualitative survey, IBV conducted a series of one on one interviews with executives and professionals across six global regions.

The study revealed that within those organizations surveyed, only 18 per cent of senior leadership positions are held by women. This is due to three key factors:

•Organizations are not sold on the business value. 79 per cent of respondents indicated that they have not formally prioritized fostering gender equality in leadership within their organizations, even though ample evidence correlates gender equity with improved financial success and competitive advantage.

•Men underestimate the magnitude of gender bias in their workplaces. 65 percent of male executives reported it is just as likely they would have been promoted to a top leadership role even if they had been women, despite the low numbers of women that currently hold those roles.

•Few organizations display a sense of urgency or ownership about this issue. Organizations are over-relying on “good intentions” and applying a laissez-faire approach to diversity, rather than applying the disciplined focus on operational execution they apply to other aspects of organizational performance.

Senior Vice President of Digital Sales and Chief Marketing Officer, IBM, Michelle Peluso, noted that the past year has heightened the world’s focus on diversity, and the business benefits of inclusive teams are now well-documented.

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