Broken rung is a common term in corporate circles. It negatively impacts the career trajectory of many working women today; therefore, fixing it should be a priority for all corporate leaders to create a more equitable, inclusive world. So, what exactly is the broken rung?
The term “broken rung” refers to a broken step on the corporate ladder, which becomes an obstacle that women face when trying to succeed in the corporate world. The concept suggests that women are unable to break through entry-level management roles and get promoted to higher levels, getting trapped in lower-level positions. The broken rung phenomenon results from systemic and cultural issues that pervade many workplaces. Despite the progress made toward gender equality, women continue to face challenges in ascending to leadership roles.
How is the Broken Rung Impacting Employees
The broken rung phenomenon impacts employees—largely women—in a big way. When women are unable to move beyond entry-level management positions, they become stuck in a career rut. They miss out on valuable career growth and development opportunities, which can lead to frustration, dissatisfaction, and burnout.
A Women in the Workplace 2022 report by McKinsey stated that for every 100 men who are promoted to managerial roles, only 87 women are promoted. Moreover, according to the report, women of color face even more of a challenge, with only 82 getting into managerial positions.
But it’s not just women who suffer. Companies that fail to address the broken rung issue also miss the benefits of a diverse and inclusive workforce. They not only risk losing top talent to competitors but also run the risk of damaging their reputation as employers.
Furthermore, the broken rung phenomenon creates a domino effect that can be felt throughout the organization. When women are held back from advancing to leadership positions, they may be less likely to mentor other women, perpetuating the cycle of inequality. This can lead to a lack of diversity and fresh perspectives in decision-making, which can ultimately harm the company’s bottom line.
What Can Leaders do to Fix the Broken Rung?
A leader in charge of fixing this problem must carefully check their company structure to note whether there is a gender-based disparity in employee advancement. If such a disparity exists, they need to take immediate steps to counter it and mitigate underlying systemic issues.
Here are four ways in which you can fix the broken rung and create a more equitable workplace:
Step 1: Acknowledge the Problem
You can’t fix what you don’t acknowledge. Start by recognizing that the broken rung is a real issue that impacts opportunities for women to advance in their careers and limits diversity in leadership roles.
Step 2: Address Bias in Hiring and Promotion
One way to fix the broken rung is by examining your company’s hiring and promotion processes. Are there any biases that may be holding women back? Take steps to remove those biases and create a more level playing field.
Step 3: Invest in Mentorship and Sponsorship Programs
Mentorship and sponsorship programs can be powerful tools for helping women break through the broken rung and advance in their careers. By pairing women with experienced mentors or helping them upskill through online courses on Emeritus, you can provide them with the guidance, support, and connections they need to succeed.
Step 4: Create a Culture of Inclusion and Belonging
Finally, creating a culture that values diversity, inclusion, and belonging is essential. Encourage open dialogue, listen to feedback from your employees, and take steps to create an environment where everyone feels valued and supported.
Taking these small yet significant steps can help fix the broken rung and create a workplace where everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed. Remember, the ladder to success should be sturdy and reliable—not missing rungs that trip people up along the way.
Short- and Long-Term Benefits
While fixing the broken rung should be a priority simply because it is the right thing to do, it also happens to be good for business. Here are some short- and long-term benefits of addressing the issue:
Improved Employee Morale and Job Satisfaction
When employees feel that they have equal opportunities for career advancement, they are more likely to feel valued and satisfied with their jobs.
Increased Diversity and Fresh Perspectives
By promoting more women to leadership positions, companies can tap into a wider range of skills, experiences, and viewpoints, leading to more innovation and creativity.
Positive Employer Brand Image
Companies prioritizing diversity and inclusion are more attractive to job seekers, which can help attract and retain top talent. According to BuiltIn, 3 in 4 candidates seeking jobs are looking for diverse companies.
Improved Financial Performance
Companies with diverse leadership teams tend to be more profitable and financially successful. According to BuiltIn, diverse companies enjoy 2.5% higher cash flow for each employee.
Increased Innovation and Competitive Advantage
A diverse and inclusive workplace fosters innovation, leading to new ideas and products that can give companies a competitive edge.
Greater Societal Impact
By promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace, companies can have a positive impact on society, creating a more equitable and just world for everyone.
The lack of representation of women in leadership positions is a worrying aspect of modern society. The challenges hindering a woman’s growth in the workplace must be looked at deeply and dealt with swiftly. The right measures taken at the right time can significantly advance a company’s growth prospects and improve its image. It is up to the leaders at the top of the corporate ladder to fix the broken rung. While this issue needs the intervention of corporate leadership, employees can prepare themselves to scale that ladder by upskilling to secure the position they deserve. One of the best ways to do this is by taking up Emeritus’ leadership courses.
By Krupesh Padave
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