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Gender parity in top leadership roles takes time and is often an uneven process. A survey of nearly 300 HR executives by Korn Ferry and the Conference Board finds that two-thirds of respondents believe that women are inadequately represented within their organizations, even though 62 percent said things had improved in their organizations over the past five years. Most respondents say they would be pleased to have 46 percent of their vice president and higher roles held by women, according to the Effective Leadership Development Strategies at Pivotal Points for Women report. For organizations that do not have that level of parity, they should aim to have at least three board seats held by women on a 10-member board, as the 30 percent level is considered a “tipping point” at which the business benefits from gender parity. The study also found that 40 percent of respondents say their leadership pipelines are increasingly diverse, but are not as effective as they could be. Although gender representation is often baked into succession planning, only around a quarter of respondents thought their strategy was effective. The report makes the case that human resources (HR) departments can often help frame the broader goals in a way that helps align diversity goals with an easy to follow guardrail for moving forward. “Gaining alignment and coordinating as a senior team are required to ensure that when a pause or action is taken, support will follow. This is necessary to be effective in disrupting the systems and practices that are deeply ingrained throughout the talent cycle,” advises the report. Rebecca L. Ray, the executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board, says, “HR and business executives need to take a step back to better understand and address the systemic reasons behind the gender imbalance. Reasons include pay inequity, hiring manager bias and accountability, a lack of sponsors and champions and the lack of programmatic support for the integration of work and life.”

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