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Lean In Study Finds Most Women Face Sexist & Racist Workplace Microagressions

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

October 23, 2018

A new study out from and McKinsey & Company reveals that women face a larger uphill battle than once thought.

"Almost two-thirds of women have dealt with microaggressions, which can be subtle or explicit forms of everyday sexism and racism," reads this year's study. For example, women have to provide more evidence of their competence and they are also twice as likely as men to have been mistaken for someone more junior. Black women and lesbian women experience microaggressions at a higher rate than women overall, 69% and 71%, respectively.

Women in the Workplace 2018 is a comprehensive study of the experiences women in corporate America face—the largest study of its kind. Since 2015, McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org have published this report annually to give companies and working women and men the insights and information they need to advance women’s leadership and gender equality within their organizations. This year, 279 companies employing more than 13 million people shared their pipeline data and completed a survey of their HR practices. More than 64,000 employees participated in a survey of their experiences in the workplace regarding gender, career opportunities, and work-life issues.

One of the other key findings of the annual study shows that women remain significantly underrepresented in corporate America. While women of color are the most underrepresented group of all, the study found that women of all backgrounds are continuing to push for promotions at the same rate as men, negotiating salaries at the same rates as men and even earning degrees at a higher rate than men.


Despite doing their part, women, the study found, get less of the manager support that advances careers. Men are more likely to have managers that give them the resources they need to climb the ladder and have more opportunities to showcase their work.

The solution? LeanIn insists that companies must "turn good intentions into concrete action" in order to achieve equality. While the vast majority of companies say they are committed to gender and racial diversity and equality, many still do not treat diversity as a business imperative.

"Only 13 percent of companies quantify the impact gender diversity will have on the business," the study reveals. "Less than 15 percent set representation targets for gender and race combined and share a majority of diversity metrics with employees. And only 16 percent hold managers and directors accountable for making progress."

Companies should take steps to reduce the number of women who feel isolated and vulnerable. Many companies need to change the way they think about adding women to their organization – which means moving beyond the mindset of “one and done” and pushing to add women until they reach true parity. In addition to increasing the representation of women, companies should be thoughtful about how they move women through their organizations. One approach is to hire and promote women in cohorts and cluster women on teams.


Employers, to learn more about being a diverse and inclusive workplace, download

Glassdoor's Guide to Diversity & Inclusion in the Workplace.

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