2022 WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP IMPACT STUDY SHOWS POSITIVE TREND IN IMPLEMENTING PROGRAMS AND POLICIES TO ADVANCE WOMEN’S LEADERSHIP
Massachusetts companies are committed to programming, tracking metrics, and applying recommendations to assure continued forward progress, notable progress is shown in data related to women of color
(BOSTON, MA) April 4, 2023 – After a dip during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, data shows that Massachusetts companies are once again investing in programs, metric tracking, and other activities that improve women’s leadership, according to the 2022 Women’s Leadership Impact Study. Conducted by The Women’s Edge, the region’s foremost business organization supporting women in leadership, this is the fifth statewide study tracking employers’ efforts and create benchmarks to develop and retain women business leaders in Massachusetts.
Increasing the number of women in leadership roles is a clear priority, with a full 84% responding that they wanted to achieve this goal and an equal number stating that they wanted to do so for women of color as well. In terms of steps to achieve this goal, companies are making progress in:
- Identifying and tracking high potential women (49% in 2022 compared to 37% in 2021)
- Earmarking resources for women’s leadership development (38% in 2022 compared to 21% in 2021)
- Offering leadership initiatives targeted specifically to women (42% in 2022, compared to 31% in 2021)
- Recognizing that sponsorship has a positive and measurable impact (94%, compared to 85% in 2021 and 67% in 2020)
- Advancing women of color, by using formal metrics to: promote and advance (58% in 2022 compared to 29% in 2019; track leadership roles (55% in 2022 compared to 28% in 2019) and improve retention (58% in 2022 compared to 29% in 2019) of women of color
“Companies recognize that having women in leadership is fundamental to their success; what is encouraging is how many companies are taking concrete steps to advance that goal, track what is working and pursue innovative new programs,” said Elizabeth Hailer, Chief Executive Officer, The Women’s Edge. “The Women’s Leadership Impact Study both tells us we are making progress and shows us not only where we have room to improve, but how to do it.”
A key component to each Women’s Leadership Impact Study is an annual “Roadmap to Success,” which identifies strategies that employers can use to overcome systemic and cultural challenges that re impeding continued progress. Data shows that survey participants put in place many of the recommendations from the 2021 report (for example, 45% established formal goals related to the development of women leaders). In addition, comments from open ended questions throughout the survey indicated that many respondents were adopting strategies to advance mentorship and sponsorship, improve data collection and increase initiatives for women of color, all key recommendations from the 2021 report.
“You can’t really know the power of a diverse workforce, or hold yourself and your organization accountable for improvements in hiring and retention, until you’re tracking and analyzing the data behind the people on your teams. That is how positive change happens,” said Nancy Huntington Stager, President and CEO of the Eastern Bank Foundation.
The 2022 report makes recommendations in several key areas, including: strategies for using metrics to spur increased leadership accountability, identifying organizational barriers to progress, implementing more formal programs for allyship, continuing to creating clearly distinct mentorship and sponsorship programs and addressing the profound impacts of mental and physical health for women in the workplace.
“We have learned from our member companies that mentorship and sponsorship are critical to support employees from underrepresented groups in navigating and advancing their careers… With more understanding about the importance of sponsorship, our members have increasingly provided either formal sponsorship programs or fostered cultures that encourage these types of relationships across the organization,” said Jay Ash, President and CEO of Massachusetts Competitive Partnership.