This year, McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.Org released a Women in the Workplace study analyzing the state of women in corporate America. Their research, which focused on 118 companies and 30,000 people, pointed to a slow rate of progress in gender equality. Researchers found that women are both underrepresented on the corporate ladder and face tangible barriers to career growth in corporate America.
The study states that “based on the slow rate of progress over the last three years, it will take twenty-five years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than one hundred years in the C-suite.” However, the challenges women face are even more complex on an international level.
Women who work at international corporations need to adjust their business behavior to fit the cultural expectations of a wide range of countries. A Harvard Business Review article authored by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Ripa Rashid brings attention to this “double pivot” that requires women to demonstrate authority in the U.K. and U.S. and shift toward reserved behavior in emerging markets to succeed in an international company.
As Hewlett and Rashid summarize, “When it comes to delivering a compelling message, women in emerging markets are expected to guide rather than direct listeners to a conclusion — the reverse of what is expected of men.” The need to adapt to these “local norms of executive presence” creates a barrier for emerging female talent that does not exist for men, contributing to gender disparity among international business leaders.