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Good & Bad News Regarding Women in Business

According to a recent study, the percentage of women in senior executive positions is growing worldwide. In 2016, women held 24% of all senior roles globally, an increase of 3% from 2011.   In the US, the figure is about the same at 23% and the highest level since 2007. In addition, more than a quarter of all new Directorships at S&P 500 companies went to women. That’s the good news.

Now the bad news – at the current pace of growth, parity between men and women won’t be reached for decades. What’s worse, nearly one-third of US businesses have no women in senior roles at all. This is even more remarkable considering women represent nearly half of the workforce in the US and more than 50% of all Bachelor’s degrees.

Getting to the upper echelons of business has never been easy, even under the best circumstances. But having an MBA could help. Despite attempts to enroll more women in MBA programs, the percentage of full-time female students remained stubbornly low for many years at less than a third of enrollees. However, the tide is turning according to a recent report by Poets & Quants. In 2016, the number of MBA programs boasting 40% or more female students doubled among the FT’s top 100 business schools, from 13 to 27, including nine of the top ten schools. In comparison, since the launch of Ramapo’s new MBA curriculum in 2012, women have accounted for 44% of total enrollees!

Many companies are making a concerted effort to attract a more demographically diverse workforce, including gender diversity.  Apple, Google and Intel have been the most vocal about their plans, as well as their shortcomings, and earmarked millions of dollars for the cause; but they are not alone. Some companies are tying management compensation to their diversity targets. Those goals are not simply altruistic. Study after study has shown that diversity leads to better corporate outcomes. And with online connectivity shrinking cultural barriers, there are plenty of strategic reasons to increase diversity.

But achieving diversity is not easy. According to diversity executives, the pool of candidates is just not deep enough to make meaningful changes overnight. As a result, many companies setup their own in-house universities and mentor programs to groom internal candidates for promotion; others go into their local communities with internships to encourage more women and underrepresented minorities to pursue STEM and business related careers. Those actions will take time to impact the numbers in a meaningful way. To address the more immediate need, employers are expanding the list of schools they recruit from; long gone are the days when corporations confined their recruiting efforts to just a hand-full of elite schools.

If you are female and looking to advance your business career, you’re not alone. A record number of women with diverse academic and professional backgrounds are heading to business school. Attaining an MBA could be the most direct path to the Boardroom.

Think about it.

Categories: MBA