Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

Visier InsightsTM Report:
Cracks in the Glass Ceiling

The United Nations calls gender equality the unfinished business of our time1 . Besides being a fundamental human right, it is critical to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development. Empowering women spurs economic growth, productivity, innovation, and trust.

Positive movement towards equality is happening. In early 2020, our report Visier Value: People Analytics Improves Female Leadership Ratio2, showed that organizations using people analytics for at least two years had improved their female leadership retention by 3.7% and the female to male ratio by 4%.

We've continued to mine our Visier Insights database to understand the dynamics of gender replacement during hiring and internal movement, and how these activities contribute to moving towards equitable female representation in leadership and management ranks

This report focuses on the movement of men and women into management roles at Visier customer organizations. For analyzing the executive level, we had 19 organizations with movement from external hiring, internal hiring and promotions. When analyzing all manager roles (all levels), we had 44 organizations. These 19 to 44 organizations employed 257,860 to 463,699 employees. More information is available in this report's Appendix.

Key Takeaways

About This Report

Women are much less likely to succeed a male in an upper management role than men are to succeed a female.

In exploring replacement patterns (Figure 1), the data unfortunately shows that men usually fill vacant senior management roles previously held by either a man or woman.

However, there is encouraging movement: For all manager populations, there is statistical evidence that females are moving upwards in replacing males, indicating upcoming cracks in the glass ceiling.

In comparing the data to other benchmarks, the state of male and female representation at upper levels varies by research source, and by just what levels are included. According to Catalyst3, at the end of 2019, 29% of all senior management roles, globally, are fulfilled by women. On the other hand, McKinsey shows that males are 66% of the top three levels of leadership roles.

While our key finding shows some progress towards gender equality, true progress means women shouldn't only be replacing other women in leadership roles–we need to see an increase in women replacing males in upper management as well. Suggestions for improvement are found in a later section of this report.

About the Publisher

Visier's purpose is to help people see the truth and create a better future, now.

Visier was founded to focus on what matters to business people: answering the right questions, even the ones a person might not know to ask. Questions that shape business strategy, provide the impetus for taking action, and drive better business results.

Visier delivers fast, clear people insight by using all the available people data—regardless of source. With best-practice expertise built-in, decisionmakers can confidently take action. Thanks to our amazing customers, Visier is the market leader in Workforce Analytics with 5,000 customers in 75 countries around the world.

Publish Date

September 2021