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Four Ways to Grow Women Leaders in Your Organization

Have you heard that only 26 of Fortune 500 CEOs are women? Or that women comprise just 17% of regional Fortune 100 companies’ executive teams in the USA, 11% in Europe, and 4% in Asia? Headlines remind us that this gender gap is present, whether it’s female leaders missing in the public or education sectors or functions like finance.

Leading organizations realize that improving the representation of female leaders is crucial to business success. (And in case you need a reminder, companies with top quartile representation of women in executive committees have on average 47% higher ROE and 55% higher EBIT (McKinsey, 2010).)

In addition, organizations are attempting to remedy this disparity to ensure they don’t miss out on the upcoming talent pool of female graduates, or lose women who are already on the leadership track to other companies that get this right.

But what to do? 

CEB turned to its membership to learn four ways organizations can improve the representation of women among their leaders:Women in Leadership

  • Step 1:  Address micro-challenges throughout the career lifecycle. While the glass ceiling gets a lot of press, the hard part is really micro-challenges along the way.

  • Step 2: Create visibility into leadership opportunities for women. Female employees are aspirational, but they need to see opportunities available on the leadership track.

  • Step 3: Make flexible work schedules the default across all levels. Women at all levels cite flex time as the most effective tool to promote female careers.

  • Step 4: Create accelerated on-ramps to re-activate women who temporarily “opt-out.” Women leaders tend to voluntarily take time off work for family reasons at a rate much higher than men.  But, it’s temporary, not permanent.

Members of CEB Corporate Leadership Council can read our new report and register for our upcoming December 15th webinar to plan how to strengthen women in leadership at their organization. Non-members can download an excerpt of the new report at

Interested in attracting and retaining other critical talent segments? See also CEB’s critical talent segment reports STEM and Millennial employees: members can access the STEMs and Millennials research on their member website, while non-members can access the STEMs and Millennials research from

Lastly, members can access comprehensive employee benchmarking data within the Employment Value Proposition Design Center on their member website.


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